European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Sunday that AstraZeneca will deliver nine million more than planned doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to the EU in the first quarter, or 40 million doses in total, a figure up 30%.
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The British company, which has suffered the wrath of European leaders for several days because of major production delays, “will start deliveries a week earlier than expected” and “will also expand its manufacturing capacity in Europe,” wrote Ms. von der Leyen on Twitter.
Deliveries will begin “a priori, the second week of February,” said a European source.
The leader, who spoke on Sunday with the CEOs of companies with which the EU has contracted for vaccines, also maintained in an interview with the German channel ZDF the objective of the EU to vaccinate 70% of adults by “the end of summer”.
On January 19, the EU also set itself the goal of vaccinating 80% of health professionals and those over 80 by March.
AstraZeneca, whose vaccine was authorized on the European market on Friday, had announced a three-quarter reduction in deliveries promised to the EU in the first quarter.
AstraZeneca had argued a “drop in yield” on a European manufacturing site to explain its delays in deliveries to the EU.
An explanation deemed “unsatisfactory” by the Commission, which called for an inspection of the Belgian industrial site concerned, managed by a subcontractor of the group, last Thursday.
In an interview with certain media, the CEO of AstraZeneca, the French Pascal Soriot, had however assured to have to reserve to the British the production of factories in the United Kingdom.
An argument strongly contested by Brussels: the use of British factories to supply the EU “is not an option, it is a contractual obligation”, insisted a European official.
Berlin threatened Sunday with legal action against laboratories “failing to meet their obligations” to deliver vaccines to the EU.
AstraZeneca signed in August a contract with Brussels for a pre-order of 400 million doses in total, which was published by the Commission, but cut many passages deemed “confidential”.
The company “is committed to making all reasonable efforts to build capacity to produce 300 million doses of the vaccine, without profit or loss,” the text said, mentioning the option. for the EU to order 100 million additional doses.