A top European Union official has lashed out at AstraZeneca over a massive shortfall in doses produced for the 27-nation bloc.
Sandra Galina, the chief of the European Commission’s health division, threatened that any shots produced by AstraZeneca in the EU could be forced to stay there.
She told legislators that while vaccine producers such as Pfizer and Moderna have largely met their commitments “the problem has been AstraZeneca”, adding: “So it’s one contract which we have a serious problem.”
The European Union has been criticised at home and abroad for the slow rollout of its vaccine drive to citizens, standing at about a third of jabs given to their citizens compared to nations such as the United States and UK.
Ms Galina said the overwhelming responsibility lies with the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was supposed to be the workforce of the drive, because it is cheaper and easier to transport and was supposed to delivered in huge amounts in the first half of the year.
“We are not even receiving a quarter of such deliveries as regards this issue,” she said, adding that AstraZeneca could expect measures from the EU.
“We intend, of course, to take action because, you know, this is the issue that cannot be left unattended,” she said.
The EU closed an advance purchasing agreement with the Anglo-Swedish company in August last year for up to 400 million doses.
Meanwhile results from a US trial of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine may have used “outdated information”, according to federal health officials in the country.
The Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) said it was concerned that AstraZeneca may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data.
AstraZeneca reported on Monday that its Covid-19 vaccine provided strong protection among adults of all ages in a long-anticipated US study, a finding that could help rebuild public confidence in the jab around the world and move it a step closer to clearance in the US.
In the study of 30,000 people, the vaccine was 79 per cent effective at preventing symptomatic cases of Covid-19 – including in older adults.