EU chief pressures pharma firms to uphold orders after AstraZeneca fallout

Brussels, Jan 26 (efe-epa).- European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday said pharmaceutical companies must honor their obligations when it comes to delivering pre-ordered Covid-19 vaccines.

Her comments, said during a speech at the virtual World Economic Forum, came after AstraZeneca informed the European Union that there would be a considerable shortfall in its deliveries to Brussels, which have already been signed off.The EU has agreed to buy 300 million shots, with the option of getting an extra 100 million.

“Europe invested billions to help develop the world’s first COVID-19 vaccines. To create a truly global common good. And now, the companies must deliver. They must honor their obligations,” the German politician said.

She said the Commission would set up a transparency mechanism to monitor vaccine exports.

This would mean that companies producing Covid-19 vaccines on EU soil would have to notify in advance of any intention of selling the jabs to third-party companies, except for those destined for humanitarian programs.

The suspicion in Brussels is that AstraZeneca, whose vaccine is set for EU approval this week, has been prioritizing sales to third-party countries.

Representatives from the Commission and EU member states met with AstraZeneca’s president twice on Monday but were left dissatisfied by company explanations.

The delays in AstraZeneca’s supply of the vaccine manufactured in collaboration with Oxford University are compounded by other distribution issues with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, although those have since been solved.

The EU’s vaccine rollout has been slower than the likes of the United Kingdom and Israel.

The bloc invested some 2.7 billion euros in the early development of Covid-19 vaccines.

EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides on Monday tweeted: “With our Member States, we have requested from AstraZeneca a detailed planning of vaccine deliveries and when distribution will take place to Member States. Another meeting will be convened on Wednesday to discuss the matter further.”EFE-EPA


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