AstraZeneca hits back at EU claims over failure to meet promised vaccine quotas in second-quarter

Micheál Martin has said that this shortfall in the number of vaccines promised by AstraZeneca has been factored into their figures.
AstraZeneca hits back at EU claims over failure to meet promised vaccine quotas in second-quarter

Dr Michael McKenna prepares to administer the first of two doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to patient John Grey at Falls Surgery on the Falls Road, Belfast.

AstraZeneca has rejected reports it will deliver less than half the number of Covid-19 vaccines it was contracted to supply to the European Union (EU) in the second quarter of this year. 

In a statement released this evening, the pharmaceutical firm said in its most up-to-date second-quarter forecast; it aims to deliver vaccines "in line with its contract with the European Commission". 

AstraZeneca said it will use its EU supply chain to meet half of the expected volume of delivery for the second quarter as well as its international supply network. 

"AstraZeneca confirms today that its most recent Q2 forecast for the delivery of its Covid-19 vaccine aims to deliver in line with its contract with the European Commission. As per this contract, approximately half of the expected volume is due to come from the EU supply chain, while the remainder would come from its international supply network. 

"At this stage, AstraZeneca is working to increase productivity in its EU supply chain and to continue to make use of its global capability in order to achieve delivery of 180 million doses to the EU in the second quarter."

Earlier, it had been reported that AstraZeneca was expected to deliver less than half the number of Covid-19 vaccines it was contracted to supply the European Union in the second quarter of this year.

An EU official is reported to have told Reuters that the company told the EU it would deliver "less than 90 million doses" in the second quarter.

The drugmaker had committed to delivering 180 million doses over the course of April, May and June.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that this shortfall in the number of vaccines promised by AstraZeneca has been factored into their figures, which aim to have 82% of adults vaccinated by the end of June.

He said that this did not "necessarily mean" that the September target to vaccinate 70% of adults would be missed.

Mr Martin said that there a number of other vaccines that could become available before the end of the second quarter that have not been factored in such as CureVac.

The Taoiseach added that Ireland would not be "too proud" to ask the UK for excess vaccines, but said that the UK still had "some way to go" before it had available stocks to give away.

"I think we will have a sufficiency of vaccines. The big challenge for us in Q2 and Q3 will be the administration of the vaccines."

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly assured there would be no change to the Government's forecast of one million vaccine doses a month from April onwards.

"Shortfalls in AstraZeneca supply for Q2 were already factored in by our Vaccine Taskforce and our programme continues as planned," he said.

It is reported an anonymous EU official told Reuters that AstraZeneca plans to deliver approximately 40 million doses.

Following the production issues faced by AstraZeneca in January, the first-quarter commitments were also not met.

The company looks set to deliver about 130 million doses to the EU by the end of June and this evening's statement recommits the company to delivering its quota of 300 million.

This latest uncertainty around supply could impact the EU's target of vaccinating 70% of adults by the summer.

The European Commission, which coordinates talks with vaccine manufacturers, has yet to comment on this evening's reports.

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