Economy

Coronavirus: EU says AstraZeneca must 'catch up' on vaccine deliveries

Coronavirus: EU says AstraZeneca must 'catch up' on vaccine deliveries”

"Let's stop being naïve", Macron told reporters after the virtual summit.

Frustrated over a massive shortfall in contracted deliveries of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines, European Union leaders have agreed to increase production within the bloc, as a third wave of infections surges across Europe.

The European Union on Wednesday tightened its oversight of coronavirus vaccine exports, giving it greater scope to block shipments to countries with higher inoculation rates such as Britain, or which are not sharing doses they produce.

"This is our absolute priority and we are completely dedicated to that task along with the European Commission".

"I think it is clear for the company that, first of all the company has to catch up, has to honour the contract it has with the European member states, before it can engage again in exporting vaccines".

"Some of our Member States have been severely affected by the disappointing reduction in deliveries of AstraZeneca vaccines", she added.

Some leaders stressed that an embargo should be a last resort if negotiations for a better way of sharing vaccine production come up short, but von der Leyen adopted an uncompromising tone.

More than a quarter of those were to the UK. He said that European citizens feel like they are being "deceived" by some drug makers, according to an EU official who relayed the exchange on condition of anonymity.

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The European Commission has adjusted its mechanism to control exports of COVID-19 vaccines to seek "fairness" in the global supply chain, dismissing claims of vaccine protectionism.

Another sensitive issue is the distribution of vaccines within Europe.

And Johnson is also concerned that a ban that extends beyond UK-based AstraZeneca's disputed supply could also block vaccines produced in Belgium for BioNTech/Pfizer.

The EU has been unhappy with slow vaccine rollouts in the EU states and the bloc has blamed pharmaceutical companies - primarily AstraZeneca - for not delivering promised doses, but AstraZeneca has said it honoured its contract. "Since the start of the mechanism on February 1, more than 380 export requests have been made, and only one has been stopped", von der Leyen pointed out.

Her comments came a day after the European Union issued a joint statement with the United Kingdom in which both sides pledged to work together after weeks of tensions over the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab. "Efforts to this end must be further intensified", the leaders said.

Countries more exposed by the shortfalls in the supply of the cheaper AstraZeneca vaccine have asked for these extra doses not to be distributed pro-rata but following criteria that take into account infections and the current quantity of vaccines in a certain member state.

At the end of the summit, the EU's 27 nations were still locked in a dispute over how an upcoming batch of 10 million doses could be allocated to narrow the vaccine gap between member states and the leaders made a decision to push the talks to a future meeting of their ambassadors.

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