EU set to require authorisation for vaccine exports

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission will detail on Friday a mechanism to require both notification and authorisation of COVID-19 vaccine exports from the bloc, after drugmakers cut scheduled deliveries of doses to the EU's 27 countries.

The EU, which has ordered vaccines collectively, learnt last week that AstraZeneca would reduce deliveries of its vaccine, set to be approved this week, by around 60% due to production problems. There have also been shortfalls in supplies of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The Commission, which has coordinated the orders, said on Tuesday it would propose that pharmaceutical firms be required to register their vaccine exports, insisting this was merely to increase transparency.

On Thursday, the EU executive said that what it was proposing would involve both transparency and authorisation.

"The decision will be taken tomorrow to start implementing this mechanism," a Commission spokesman told a news conference.

In March, at the height of the first COVID-19 wave, the European Union required exporters of protective equipment such as masks to secure authorisation from the EU country where they were located.

The measures lasted for two months until mid-May, although the range of products was narrowed in April. In the case of masks, applications for about a quarter of all exports were rejected.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Alex Richardson)