EU nations have received 18.5 million COVID-19 vaccines

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Seeking to rebound from heavy criticism of its slow coronavirus vaccine rollout, the European Union said Monday that 18.5 million vaccine doses have been dispatched across the 27-nation bloc amid delays and disputes in the delivery schedule.

Speaking at a press conference, the EU Executive Commission's health policy spokesman, Stefan de Keersmaecker, said 17.6 million of the doses have been provided by Pfizer-BioNTech, with the remainder delivered by Moderna.

The EU, which has 450 million people, has signed deals for six different vaccines and invested 2.7 billion euros ($3.8 billion) in vaccine development as part of an "advanced purchase agreement" with drugmakers. In total, it has ordered more than 2 billion doses but is far behind Britain, the United States and Israel in getting its people vaccinated against the virus.

So far, only three vaccines—Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Astra-Zeneca—have been approved for use in the bloc.

More than 465,000 EU residents have died of the virus, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University that experts agree has almost certainly been an undercount.

Officials in Brussels quarreled with AstraZeneca last week after the pharmaceutical company said it would deliver smaller-than-expected supplies to EU member nations. The EU ordered up to 400 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine but the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company said last month it would only supply 31 million doses during the first quarter of the year due to production issues.

Following a heated dispute, the company agreed Sunday to supply 9 million additional doses to the EU before the end of March. The EU commission said it will continue discussions to try and get more doses from the drugmaker.

The shipment of shots was also disrupted by delays last month in the production of vaccines at a Pfizer plant in Belgium, which has now returned to normal.

According to the EU, a total of four million doses were delivered to EU countries last week—3.5 million from Pfizer-BioNTech and 500,000 manufactured by Moderna.

Despite the repeated setbacks, the EU remains confident member states can achieve the commission's goal that 70% of the adult population across the bloc will be vaccinated by the end of the summer.

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