Coronavirus: AstraZeneca to miss European Union vaccine delivery target in second quarter

Brunilde Fioravanti
Febbraio 26, 2021

Grilled by European lawmakers, the chief executive of AstraZeneca, Pascal Soriot, gave only vague explanations about recent supply cuts of COVID-19 vaccines and about the preferential treatment given to the United Kingdom, failing to guarantee the expected EU deliveries for the second quarter of the year.

"We are continuously revising our delivery schedule and informing the European Commission on a weekly basis of our plans to bring more vaccines to Europe", the AstraZeneca spokesman said in his initial comment.

The vaccine was approved under Canada's interim order system, which allows for accelerated approvals similar to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's emergency use authorizations.

The shortfall comes after a reduction in supplies in the first quarter, and could keep the European Union from meeting its target of vaccinating 70% of adults by the summer.

Deliveries to the Continent had been the subject of a spat between the bloc and the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker, after the company revealed its deliveries would fall short by at least 75 million doses by the end of the first quarter.

He said the European Union should have more than enough shots to hit its vaccination targets if the expected and agreed deliveries from other suppliers are met, regardless of the situation with AstraZeneca.

Media reports suggested that second-quarter deliveries were being slashed from 180 million to 90 million doses.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had even threatened AstraZeneca with legal consequences.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has already been authorized in more than 50 countries.

Merkel described an "acceptance problem" with the vaccine, which she said was "effective and safe".

Later in the day a spokesman in a new statement said the company's "most recent Q2 forecast for the delivery of its COVID-19 vaccine aims to deliver in line with its contract with the European Commission".

Canada will soon have two more vaccines to combat the COVID-19 virus.

Responding to the worries of medical professionals who experienced mild flu-like side effects to the AstraZeneca vaccine, Fischer recommended taking paracetamol in parallel with the injection.

"Therefore we deliver half of the assumption, which is half of the number of doses per litre, then the prediction is half what you expected. It's pretty simple, it's just simple math", he said.

Health Canada approved the vaccine for all adults, saying its efficacy in those over 65 was supported by factors outside of clinical trials.

Soriot also confirmed once again that there is no secondary market as AstraZeneca supplies its vaccines directly to governments.

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