The announcement comes a day after the European Union consolidated its support for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by agreeing to a massive contract extension for a potential 1.8 billion doses until 2023. Two weeks ago, the The EU has launched legal proceedings against AstraZeneca for allegedly failing to honor the terms of its contract with the 27-nation bloc.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has played a central role in the European vaccination campaign and a key part of the global strategy to get vaccines to the poorest countries because it is cheaper and easier to use than the Pfizer vaccine. But the slowness of deliveries frustrated the Europeans and they held the company responsible for the delay in part of their vaccine deployment.
French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed this decision. Macron said EU policy was aimed at responding in particular to variants. “We are seeing that some other vaccines are more effective,” Breton said. Two weeks ago, the EU launched legal proceedings against the pharmaceutical group for allegedly breaching the terms of its contract.
South Africa earlier this year halted use of the AstraZeneca vaccine after preliminary data indicated that it could be very poorly effective against the dominant variant in the country.
In France, the variant first identified in Britain has become largely dominant, and the South African variant accounts for only a small percentage of the virus detected in the country.