Coronavirus EU and AstraZeneca seek

Coronavirus EU and AstraZeneca seek

Coronavirus EU and AstraZeneca seek to resolve vaccine supply crisis

The EU and the UK-based Covid vaccine maker AstraZeneca have vowed to work together to resolve a bitter row over supply shortages to the 27-member bloc.

This comes after crisis talks which both sides described as “constructive”.

AstraZeneca earlier said it could deliver only a fraction of the dozes it promised in January-March, blaming production issues at European plants.

But the EU said the firm must honour its commitments and deliver the jabs by diverting stock from the UK.

The contract between the EU and AstraZeneca contains a confidentiality clause – but the EU has asked the company to release the details nevertheless.

Reports said last week the EU would get 60% fewer vaccine doses – about 50 million jabs – than promised in the first quarter of the year.

The EU – which has been criticised for the slow rollout of its inoculations – is also facing delays with supplies of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The bloc has a much bigger deal with the US-German vaccine-maker.

Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I’m confident of our supplies and we’ll keep rolling out vaccines as fast we possibly can. I am very pleased at the moment that we have the fastest rollout of vaccines in Europe by some way.”

What did the EU and AstraZeneca say?

After Wednesday’s crisis talks, EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides expressed regret over the “continued lack of clarity on the delivery schedule”.

“We will work with the company to find solutions and deliver vaccines rapidly for EU citizens,” she tweeted.

An AstraZeneca spokesman said the company had “committed to even closer co-ordination to jointly chart a path for the delivery of our vaccine over the coming months”.

Pfizer has not been able to supply the 12.5 million vaccines it promised the EU by the end of 2020, saying last week it was delaying shipments for the next few weeks because of work to increase capacity at its Belgian processing plant.

As a result of delays, Spanish officials said the Madrid region was halting almost all vaccinations for two weeks and supplies in Catalonia were also threatened.

The EU has threatened to restrict the exports of vaccines made within the bloc to deal with the shortfall.

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