In the second quarter of 2021, AstraZeneca will deliver less than half of the 180 million vaccines against the coronavirus contracted by the European Union for this period, Reuters reported, citing an EU official directly involved in the Community’s talks with the company. According to the agency’s information, less than 90 million doses of this vaccine are to be delivered to EU countries from April to June.
AstraZeneca’s deal with the EU, which was leaked last week, indicates that it has committed to deliver 180 million doses to 27 EU countries in the second quarter of this year. However, as the Reuters agency reports, which identified its anonymous source in the European Union as a person directly involved in talks with the British-Swedish company, this order will not be implemented even in half.
EU representatives learned at meetings with the company that between April and June, less than 90 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be delivered.
The news came shortly after AstraZeneka significantly cut shipments in the first quarter and, Reuters points out, could impact the European Union’s ability to meet its goal of vaccinating 70 percent of the adult population by summer.
A Reuters source confirmed that AstraZeneca will only deliver 40 of the 90 million doses of the vaccine promised to the EU in the first quarter. In 2020, the concern was to guarantee the EU 30 million doses, but the Community did not allow the vaccine to be used yet.
In total, only 130 of the planned and contracted 300 million doses of AstraZeneki vaccine may reach the EU by the end of June, the agency calculates.
“As we are working extremely hard to increase the productivity of our EU supply chain and doing everything possible to capitalize on our global supply chain, we hope to be able to deliver more closely to what was previously guaranteed under the agreement,” said an AstraZeneca spokesman in a statement.
As Reuters points out, however, he declined to comment on the exact numbers.
The European Commission also refused the agency to officially comment on the case.
An anonymous EU representative also said that if AstraZeneca increases its production in the third quarter, it could help the EU achieve its goal of vaccinating adults by summer. However, he recommended caution on this point, as the company did not explain where the additional doses of vaccines would come from.
The agency also described a document from the German Ministry of Health, dated February 22. It shows that AstraZeneca is to fill in all shortages in the supply of vaccines to Germany by the end of September. In the third quarter, AstraZeneca is to provide Germany with 34 million doses, which will raise their total to 56 million annually, and that is Germany within the 300 million doses contracted for the Union.
The German health ministry did not comment on this issue to Reuters.
In January, AstraZeneca announced that vaccine deliveries to EU countries in the first quarter of this year will be lower than originally scheduled. Following an earlier meeting between representatives of EU member states and company management, EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides tweeted about “regret” about “the continued lack of clarity on the delivery schedule”. She stressed that the Union had asked the company for a clear schedule for the rapid delivery of vaccine doses that the European Commission had reserved for the first quarter.
AstraZeneki vaccines in Poland
On February 6, the first shipment of over 124,000 vaccines from AstraZeneka arrived in Poland. The government said it had contracted 16 million vaccines from the concern.
At the end of January, the company announced a reduction in deliveries. A spokeswoman for AstraZeneki explained then that the reason is the lower production of vaccines in one of the plants “in the European supply network”. In early February, she said that “to compensate the European Commission and EU member states for the inconvenience, the manufacturer of AstraZeneca will supply nine million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine more than it initially announced.”
READ MORE ON CONTRACT 24: How many fewer doses of the COVID-19 vaccine has Poland received so far? We counted
AstraZeneki vaccine is the third coronavirus preparation approved for use on the EU market. It is to be given in two doses, with the second dose given between 4 and 12 weeks after the first.
Main photo source: DAN HIMBRECHTS / EPA / PAP