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EU Chief Seeks ‘Amicable’ Solution As AstraZeneca Admits New Delays

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen offers a press assertion following a cellphone name assembly with Britain’s Prime Minister, on the European Commission in Brussels on December 13, 2020. Olivier HOSLET / POOL / AFP


European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen insisted Wednesday that new issues dogging the provision of AstraZeneca’s vaccines may be resolved, after the group admitted it may ship solely half the anticipated quantity to the bloc within the second quarter.

“The vaccine manufacturers are our partners in this pandemic and they have also never faced such a challenge,” she advised the German regional each day Augsburger Allgemeine.

“New questions are always arising that we can generally resolve amicably,” she stated on the eve of a digital EU summit on the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Von der Leyen added that she advocated “working together with the companies to ensure global production is improved”.

AstraZeneca stated Tuesday its EU provide chains would solely be capable to ship half of an anticipated provide of Covid-19 vaccines to the bloc within the second quarter — however that it might look to make up the shortfall from elsewhere.

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A spokesman for the British-Swedish medicine group advised AFP AstraZeneca was “working to increase productivity in its EU supply chain” and would use its “global capability in order to achieve delivery of 180 million doses to the EU in the second quarter”.

“Approximately half of the expected volume is due to come from the EU supply chain” whereas the rest would come from its worldwide provide community, he added.

The announcement follows controversy over deliveries of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University jab to the European Union within the first quarter, which has brought on pressure between the bloc and the pharmaceutical firm.

– Diplomatic tensions –

Ahead of the EU’s approval of the vaccine on the finish of January, the corporate sparked fury amongst European leaders by saying that it might miss its goal of supplying the EU with 400 million doses, as a result of a shortfall on the agency’s European vegetation.

The disagreement additionally brought on diplomatic tensions with Britain, which definitively left the EU after 40 years of membership following a transmission interval on the finish of 2020 — with Brussels implicitly accusing AstraZeneca of giving preferential therapy to Britain on the expense of the EU.

The UK authorities has vaccinated tens of millions of Britons with the AstraZeneca jab since late final yr.

But the corporate solely started transport it to the EU in early February, after the bloc’s drug regulator took its time over recommending its use.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has suffered numerous different setbacks — it was briefly excluded from South Africa’s immunisation marketing campaign due to concern it was much less efficient in the direction of new virus variants there; and Germany’s vaccine fee beneficial it just for individuals aged 18 to 64 years outdated.

But extra lately, World Health Organization consultants beneficial it to be used on individuals aged over 65 and in settings the place new strains of the virus are circulating.

The shot kinds the majority of doses being rolled out all over the world — particularly in poorer international locations — underneath the Covax programme.

It has attracted reward for its low value relative to rivals and its ease of storage — a daily fridge can be utilized.

AstraZeneca stated on February 11 its earnings doubled in 2020.

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