Orders for AstraZeneca vaccine to be stopped by the EU after June

A local resident receives an AstraZeneca vaccine inside the city's main mosque, which has temporarily become a mass vaccination centre in Cologne, Germany. Getty Images

After signing an agreement with Pfizer and BioNTech, European Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said on Sunday that the EU has not placed any new orders for AstraZeneca vaccines beyond June when its contract with the company expires.

Mr. Breton predicted that Pfizer-vaccines BioNTech's would be more expensive than previous models.

Last month, the commission filed a lawsuit against AstraZeneca for failing to honor its contract for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines and failing to provide a "reliable" plan in place to ensure timely deliveries.

"After June, we did not renew the order." Mr. Breton told France Inter radio, "We'll see what happens."

He did not rule out the possibility of a later renewal.

Concerns have been raised regarding the Anglo-Swedish Covid-19 vaccine's potential side effects.

On Friday, the European Medicines Agency said it was looking into evidence of a rare nerve-degenerative disease in people who had the shots.

There had been some fear that the vaccine may have triggered very unusual blood clotting events.

While the regulator maintains that the benefits of AstraZeneca's vaccine outweigh any drawbacks, some European countries have restricted or banned its use to older age groups.

President Emmanuel Macron of France praised the drive toward more successful vaccines against new Covid-19 variants, calling it "pragmatic."

Mr. Macron told the European Parliament in Strasbourg that "we are vaccinating with this vaccine [AstraZeneca] in France and in Europe."

"We must keep doing this because it will assist us in overcoming the crisis."

"However, for future orders, we see that other vaccines are now more successful in responding to variants, so this signals a European pragmatism that I welcome."

The European Commission announced on Friday that it had signed a deal with Pfizer-BioNTech for 1.8 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines for the years 2021-2023, to cover booster shots, donations, and resale of doses.

Mr. Breton believes that a rise in prices for second-generation vaccines may be justified due to further testing and improvements in manufacturing equipment.

"There may be a small additional expense," he said, "but I will let the competent authorities reveal it in due course."

Publish : 2021-05-10 09:22:00

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