The European Union has not renewed orders for AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine beyond June and is not sure it will, the bloc’s internal market commissioner said on Sunday.
Last month, the EU launched legal action against the pharmaceutical giant for insufficient vaccine delivery which has hampered efforts to revive vaccinations across the bloc.
Public confidence in AstraZeneca’s jab, meanwhile, has taken a hit over concerns of links to very rare blood clots in the brain.
Some member states have restricted its use to older people despite the bloc’s medicines agency insisting that the benefits of the shot outweigh the risks.
“We did not renew the contract beyond the month of June,” Commissioner Thierry Breton told French radio. “It remains to be seen if we do. “
Breton said that does not necessarily mean the end of the European Union’s vaccine negotiations with the Anglo-Swedish company. “It’s not done. Wait and see, ”he said.
Breton’s remarks came a day after Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said the EU had reached a deal with rival drugmaker BioNTech / Pfizer for up to 1.8 billion doses additional amounts of their Covid-19 vaccine.
The contract, in addition to the 600 million BioNTech / Pfizer doses the commission has already secured, aims to provide the bloc – 450 million people – with enough jabs for booster shots, the EU said.
The commission said AstraZeneca appeared ready to deliver just a third of the 300 million doses promised by June.
The EU originally intended to use the AstraZeneca vaccine as the main work center to fuel the block’s inoculation campaign – but has now switched to the more expensive BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine as a mainstay.
Pfizer is expected to distribute 250 million doses across the EU in the second quarter of this year, as the 27 countries seek to reach the goal of vaccinating 70% of adults by July.
© 2021 AFP