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Europe backs down over vaccine supply row

Europe backs down over vaccine supply row”

The British-Swedish company had announced last week that it could deliver only a quarter of the doses originally promised to the bloc for the first quarter of the year because of problems at one of its European factories, which is managed by a sub-contractor.

European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides called it "encouraging news".

The pace of the vaccine rollout in the 27-member bloc has so far been slow and Von der Leyen admitted the situation would be "difficult" in March and April - but wanted 70% of adults in Europe to have a jab by the end of the summer.

Canada and Japan raised concerns with the commission over new export rules requiring manufacturers to obtain permission before shipping Covid-19 jabs outside the EU.

The former prime minister, a vocal supporter of the United Kingdom remaining in the bloc, said Brussels' action in triggering Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol to control the movement of coronavirus jabs had been "unacceptable".

Von der Leyen responded last week to AstraZeneca's delivery delays by saying that the European Union is spending billions on vaccines and expects pharmaceutical companies to hold up their end of the deal.

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It's been called a "step forward" by Brussels, after the bitter row over supply cuts which almost derailed the Brexit agreement on the North.

Her comments highlighted growing bitterness between AstraZeneca and Brussels since the company unexpectedly announced on Jan 22 that it would not meet its scheduled deliveries.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said Britain had gone "out of our way" to help the bloc with supplies and "will continue to do so", but speaking on Sky News, Truss was slightly more cautious in her language. "It's a bit too early to say how we would deploy vaccines, but we certainly want to work with friends and neighbors, we want to work with developing countries". "We've got thousands of deaths on a daily basis and people, due to the delays and shortages at the moment, people have had their vaccine appointments cancelled, vaccinations campaigns have had to be interrupted".

Germany's government on Sunday threatened any laboratory that failed to respect their obligations with legal action.

The export measures exclude European countries outside the EU as well as nations across the Middle East and north Africa and 92 low- and lower middle- income states.

"It is crucial to prepare for the appearance of such variants", Von der Leyen said in a statement.



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