EU says AstraZeneca supplies to UK not the priority

by Lorraine Williamson
AstraZeneca supplies to UK - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Oxford_AstraZeneca_COVID-19_vaccine_(2021)_A.jpeg

MADRID – UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock recently claimed that AstraZeneca´s deal with Britain would mean priority of supplies to UK.

As reported by The Times, “Britain negotiated a better contract to secure vaccines with AstraZeneca supplies to UK that trumps the EU’s agreement with the company”, the health secretary said. However, this was contradicted at a news conference by a spokesperson from AstraZeneca.

No legal obligations

According to Reuters, AstraZeneca has told the European Union that it has no legal obligations to Britain. Or other buyers that would prevent the full supply of COVID-19 doses under its contract with the EU, a European Commission spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

“AstraZeneca confirmed to us not being under any obligation to other parties that would impede to complete the fulfilment of its obligations” to the EU, the Commission spokeswoman said when asked about Hancock’s statements.

Her statement repeated the main points of article 13.1 of the EU contract with AstraZeneca. Under which the company agreed not to have any contractual obligations that would limit its ability to meet EU commitments.

Committed to supplying vaccines

Under the EU contract, AstraZeneca committed to supplying vaccines produced in four European factories. Two of which are in Britain: Oxford Biomedica and Cobra Biologics.

Casa Las Dunas Spain

So far, Britain has not exported any AstraZeneca vaccines to the EU. This is despite EU calls for access to doses produced there.

Furthermore, AstraZeneca committed to delivering more doses to the EU than to Britain. This has not been the case. AstraZeneca supplies to UK have so far exceeded those shipped to all 27 EU countries combined.

As reported in the Independent today, Brussels has warned the UK that there will be no export of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine manufactured in the European Union (EU) until the company meets its vaccine commitment to them. EU internal market commissioner, Thierry Breton emphasised “they (the EU) are just trying to make sure that AstraZeneca’s contract with the EU “is delivered — and of course we are here to also help our British friends … But we have nothing to negotiate.”

The EU blames massive shortfalls of AstraZeneca doses for the slow vaccine roll-out.

Also, many European countries briefly stopped using the vaccine earlier this month while rare cases of blood clots were investigated. But following a report from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) that said benefits of AstraZeneca’s vaccine outweighed the risks, vaccinating continued.

However, once again, the use of AstraZeneca has been suspended for certain groups in some countries including Canada and Germany.

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