After the pharmaceutical Pfizer, it was the turn of AstraZeneca, which announced delays in vaccine delivery in Europe, which causes unrest in many countries.
Deliveries of the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine to Europe – subject to approval, scheduled for January 29 – will be less significant than anticipated, due to a “decreased performance” at a manufacturing site, the British group said.
The European Commission had initially reserved until 400 million doses of this vaccine.
This announcement immediately aroused “the deep discontent” of the European Commission and the Member States, indicated on Twitter the European Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides, who insists on “a precise delivery schedule”.
Austria was one of the countries that was most outraged by delays in deliveries. (AP)
“Very bad news”, lamented the Austrian Minister of Health, Rudolf Anschober. “We are not willing to accept them and we will fight “so that deliveries are” recovered as soon as possible, “he said.
According to Anschober, Austria should receive only “340,000 doses” of the AstraZeneca vaccine in February, compared to 650,000 initially expected.
Lithuania, for its part, put the reduction in doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine at 80% expected in the first quarter 2021.
Questioned on the Irish public broadcaster RTE, Prime Minister Micheal Martin spoke about the impact of delivery delays. “It can impact the broader vaccination program and it will disrupt our plans, “he said.
In Germany they continue with the vaccination campaign and downplayed the delays in the delivery of doses. (AFP)
He added that he hopes a “solid compromise” will be reached between the European Commission and AstraZeneca in the coming days.
Anger from Italy and tolerance from France and Germany
Less direct, French and German officials sought to reassure their populations.
France, where the slowness of the vaccination campaign creates much controversy, reached one million inoculated on Saturday.
The vaccination plan not affected by delivery times announced, assured the French Minister for Industry, Agnès Pannier Runacher.
“We have new vaccines arriving, we have Pfizer that increases its production capacity,” he announced on France Inter radio.
Italy is in the middle of the vaccination campaign and said it could sue the laboratories and the delays continue. (ANSA)
In Germany, Health Minister Jens Spahn was also reassuring. After the authorization of the vaccine in the EU, expected within a week, “There will be AstraZeneca deliveries in February”he commented.
“How many doses? We have to clarify that with AstraZeneca and the European Union in the next few days,” he added.
In Sweden, the national vaccination coordinator, Richard Bergström, explained that his country is expected to receive some 700,000 doses in the first month after the vaccine is licensed, compared to one million doses expected.
Norway, which is not a member of the EU but follows the decisions of the European Medicines Agency regarding authorizations, expressed its “disappointment”.
The country’s main health authority, FHI, expects to receive just 200,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine by February, compared to 1.12 million doses initially expected.
The delays announced last week in the delivery of the Pfizer / BioNtech vaccine have already drawn the ire of European countries.
“We believe that Pfizer is to blame at this time”, criticized at the Stampa on Saturday the leader of the Italian crisis cell for the pandemic, Domenico Arcuri, and confirmed that Italy intended to sue the American laboratory.
“The 20% reduction in Pfizer vaccine supplies is not an estimate, but a sad certainty,” he said, insisting that the right to health of Italians is not “negotiable.”
On Friday, French Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, asked Pfizer “that you fulfill your commitments” of deliveries.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has the advantage of being cheaper than its rivals. It is also easier to store and transport, as the Pfizer / BioNTech must be kept at very low temperatures (-70ºC).
The pandemic has caused almost 700,000 deaths in the Europe region (52 countries as defined by the AFP), where almost 32 million people have been infected.
Only in the 27 countries of the EU have been registered about 18.5 million cases and 443,231 deaths.