The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, threatened to block exports of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine if the block does not receive the promised doses first. “We have the option of suspending planned exports. This is our message to AstraZeneca: Respect the contract with Europe before starting to supply [dosis] to other countries“Said the official in an interview with the German press group Funke.
Von der Leyen said that the British-Swedish laboratory AstraZeneca has only delivered 30% of the 90 million vaccines promised to the EU in the first quarter of the year. The company argued that it had production delays at its European factories, but European officials are making no secret of their outrage with AstraZeneca, which did manage to deliver all promised doses to the UK.
On Wednesday, Von der Leyen already threatened to tighten the conditions for exports of vaccines to producer countries, on a question of “reciprocity” and “proportionality.” “All options are on the table,” said the person in charge. “We are ready to use every tool we need to achieve this, and make sure Europe has its fair share,” he added.
The European Union adopted in January a vaccine export control mechanism, and last week it extended the term of application of those norms until the end of June. By virtue of this mechanism, companies that signed vaccine pre-sale contracts with the EU must obtain an authorization to export doses outside the block. To prohibit the export of vaccines, the Member State where they are produced must initiate the procedure and then, the Commission gives its approval.
This mechanism has been applied once, in the case of Italy, which blocked the export of a 250,000-dose shipment of AstraZeneca’s drug to Australia, citing a “persistent shortage” of vaccines and “supply delays” by the laboratory.
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