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23rd Apr 2021

EU's AstraZeneca contract 'supersedes all others'

  • AstraZeneca was supposed to deliver 90 million doses to the EU in the first quarter of 2021. This was then reduced to 40 million, and then down again to 30 million (Photo: European Commission)

The European Commission insisted on Tuesday (30 March) its vaccine contract with AstraZeneca supersedes all others.

"No other contract should supersede our contract," said deputy chief European Commission spokesperson Dana Spinant at the daily briefing.

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The comment was made following recent statements from UK's health secretary Matt Hancock that London had an "exclusivity deal" with the British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm.

"They have a 'best efforts' contract and we have an exclusivity deal," Hancock had told the Financial Times newspaper. The UK exclusivity suggests that the EU had signed an inferior deal.

Spinant refrained from commenting directly on the statement.

But she added that the EU's contract with AstraZeneca says "there is nothing which would prevent the company from delivering the quantities that they committed to."

Another commission spokesperson noted that the firm had also confirmed that it was not "under any obligation to other parties" when it comes to fulfilling the EU contract.

AstraZeneca is meeting its doses contracted for the UK but has missed its target for the EU - sparking tensions and mudslinging from both sides.

The two last week agreed to resolve the dispute with the firm, amid threats the EU would slap an export ban on the vaccine.

The UK is producing the vaccine at two domestic sites, while a third in the Netherlands was recently approved by the European Medicines Agency.

The Dutch site is expected to produce the vaccine for both the EU and the UK. A site in Belgium was earlier this year struggling with low yields of the vaccine.

The pharmaceutical firm was supposed to deliver 90 million doses throughout the EU in the first quarter. This was then reduced to 40 million, and then down again to 30 million.

According to figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, some 18.6 million AstraZeneca doses have been distributed throughout the EU since the start of the year.

Those figures are set to be updated on Wednesday, the date at which the first quarter draws to a close.

Opinion

A neuroscientist writes on AstraZeneca fears

Irrespective of whether or not the decision to pause the AstraZeneca vaccine was political, it is clear that governments around the world are not solely basing their vaccination rollout on scientific evidence.

EU drugs agency plays down AstraZeneca 'blood clot' fears

The European Medicines Agency has said that the benefits of AstraZeneca's vaccine continue to outweigh the risks - suggesting countries can continue using the British-Swedish jab. Several member states have suspended its use over blood-clot concerns.

EU defends all vaccines, amid lower AstraZeneca take-up

The European Commission said that bloc's strict regulatory process for the evaluation and approval of vaccines is crucial to persuade citizens to get the jab, calling on member states to fight vaccine hesitancy with information.

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