Brussels will publish an edited copy of its contract with drug giant AstraZeneca on Friday, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said after a dispute over delays in vaccine delivery.
“We want to publish it today. We are talking to the company about which parts need to be darkened,” she told the German broadcaster Deutschlandfunk on Friday.
AstraZeneca has warned there will be delays in delivering the Covid-19 vaccine, despite von der Leyen calling this a “crystal clear” commitment.
The company’s CEO, Pascal Soriot, said there had been production disruptions at AstraZeneca’s subcontracted plants in the EU and that the contract had made “best efforts” to achieve its goals.
But von der Leyen, building on increasingly angry comments from EU officials this week, insisted that the contract put the Anglo-Swedish company under a fixed number of vaccines per quarter.
“The ‘best effort’ is as long as it is not clear whether they can develop a vaccine. We have passed that time. The vaccine is here,” she said.
– ‘Your decision’ –
The European Medicines Agency is expected to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine for use later Friday, potentially restricting it to younger age groups, amid concerns that it has not been thoroughly tested in the elderly.
However, AstraZeneca has been tasked with pre-shipping its drug to EU governments to allow for a swift roll-out across the bloc, fearing a new wave of infections from Covid-19 variants.
“There are very clear delivery quantities for December last year as well as for the coming quarters. These are included in the contract,” said von der Leyen.
AstraZeneca has continued to service its separate UK contract, arguing that there was time to fix production issues as it was signed with the UK government three months earlier.
But von der Leyen said it was up to the company where the vaccines were made and that its UK plants were clearly part of the plan when it was signed with Brussels.
“The company itself gave us four production sites on behalf of us, two of which are actually in the UK. That was their decision. They have an overview of their production,” she said.
“It is clear that the two factories are in the UK. How they manage that is up to the company.”
One of the facilities for the production of the vaccine in Europe, operated by the US company Thermo Fisher in Seneffe, West Belgium, was inspected by Belgian health authorities this week at the request of the European Commission.
AstraZeneca blamed production delays there for its shortage.
However, Brussels is preparing a “transparency and authorization mechanism” to monitor vaccine exports from the bloc, which gives EU member states the power to block shipments that are not considered “legitimate”.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)