AZ vaccine order renewal 'remains to be seen': EU
The European Union has not renewed orders for AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine beyond June and is not certain that it will, the bloc's internal market commissioner said Sunday.
The EU last month launched legal action against the pharmaceutical giant for vaccine delivery shortfalls that hampered efforts to kickstart inoculations across the bloc.
Public confidence in the AstraZeneca jab, meanwhile, has taken a blow over worries of links to very rare blood clots in the brain.
Some member states have restricted use to older people despite the bloc's medicines agency insisting the jab's benefits outweigh the risks.
"We haven't renewed the contract beyond the month of June," Commissioner Thierry Breton told French radio. "Whether we do remains to be seen."
Breton said this did not necessarily mean the end of the European Union's vaccine dealings with the British-Swedish firm. "It's not done. Wait and see," he said.
Breton's remarks came a day after Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said the EU had concluded a deal with rival drugmaker BioNTech/Pfizer for up to 1.8 billion extra doses of their COVID-19 vaccine.
The contract, on top of the 600 million BioNTech/Pfizer doses the commission has already secured, aims to supply the bloc—population 450 million—with enough jabs for booster shots, the EU said.
The commission says AstraZeneca looked set to deliver only a third of the 300 million doses it had promised by June.
The EU initially intended to use the AstraZeneca jab as the main workhouse to power the bloc's inoculation drive—but has now switched to the more expensive BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine as its mainstay.
Pfizer is expected to deliver 250 million doses across the EU during the second quarter of this year as the 27 nations look to meet a target of vaccinating 70 percent of adults by July.
© 2021 AFP