Watch: Vaccine delivery to be cut to EU
AstraZeneca is to cut deliveries of its Covid-19 vaccine to the European Union by 60 per cent in the first quarter of the year due to production problems, in a blow to the bloc’s efforts to push back against the virus.
The British firm was expected to deliver about 80 million doses to the 27 EU countries by the end of March, but now only 31 million will be delivered.
The decrease will further hamper Europe's Covid-19 vaccination drive after Pfizer and partner BioNTech slowed supplies of their vaccine this week, saying the move was needed because of work to ramp up production.
The UK will not be affected by the shortfall, insiders stressed, because the majority of doses, produced in conjunction with the University of Oxford, are manufactured in this country.
A spokesman for AstraZeneca, said: “While there is no scheduled delay to the start of shipments of our vaccine should we receive approval in Europe, initial volumes will be lower than originally anticipated due to reduced yields at a manufacturing site within our European supply chain.
“We will be supplying tens of millions of doses in February and March to the European Union, as we continue to ramp up production volumes.”
AstraZeneca told EU officials at a meeting that the cut was due to production problems at a vaccine factory in Belgium run by its partner Novasep, the EU official said. Novasep was not immediately available to comment.
EU governments "expressed deep dissatisfaction with this," EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said on Twitter after the announcement.
The EU drug regulator is due to decide on approval of AstraZeneca's vaccine on Jan. 29. It has already received emergency authorisation in Britain and is being rolled out.
The EU has a deal to purchase at least 300 million doses from AstraZeneca, with an option for an additional 100 million, part of the company's global commitments to supply more than 3 billion doses.
Norway, which is not in the EU, said on Friday that it would receive fewer than 200,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in February, rather than the 1.12 million it had been expecting.
Camilla Stoltenberg, head of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, said to receive less than 18 per cent of the promised doses was a “disappointment” and showed that vaccine deliveries were "extremely uncertain".
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