By Tony Winterburn • 21 March 2021 • 12:15
The EU Has Threatened To Block Millions Of AstraZeneca Doses To The UK.
The European Union has once again threatened to block millions of vaccines to the UK, after telling AstraZeneca to up production and speed up deliveries to the block or face bans.
The company itself has blamed production delays at its EU plants, but European officials are furious that AstraZeneca has been able to deliver its United Kingdom contract while falling short on the continent. Von der Leyen said Anglo-Swedish pharma giant AstraZeneca had so far delivered only 30 per cent of the 90 million vaccine doses it had promised for the first quarter of the year.
The move reportedly puts some 19 million doses on the line and comes as the European Commission increases the pressure on pharmaceutical companies amid fears of a third wave on the continent that is already spreading across Europe.
It puts the two groups on a ‘vaccine war’ footing, with the EU suggesting that AstraZeneca could be banned from delivering to countries outside the block – including the UK – if it does not speed up deliveries on the continent.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen warned on Saturday, March 20: ‘We have the possibility to ban planned exports. This is a message to AstraZeneca: You fulfil your part of the deal toward Europe before you start to deliver to other countries.’
In the interview with German newspapers, von der Leyen reiterated that the EU’s contract with AstraZeneca states that vaccines destined for the bloc would be produced in both EU and UK plants. “But we haven’t received anything from the Brits, although we are delivering to them,” she said, adding that the European Commission had sent a “formal letter” to the company to complain.
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