EU livid as rumours AstraZeneca will miss supply targets to the bloc AGAIN

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca will once again miss its supply target to the European Union for the second quarter in a row, a Eurocrat told Reuters news agency on Tuesday.

The drugmaker was expected to provide 180 million doses of its jab for use across the bloc in Q2 but the EU official who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity confirmed the EU is to receive “less than 90 million doses in the second quarter.”

“We are working incredibly hard to increase the productivity of our EU supply chain, and doing everything possible to make use of our global supply chain, we are hopeful that we will be able to bring our deliveries closer in line with the advance purchase agreement,” said a spokesman for AstraZeneca who refused to be drawn on committing to specific figures.

Since the last quarter of 2020, Reuters’ source in Brussels confirmed over 300 million doses had been contracted to be delivered yet they will have received just 130 million by the summer.

“We are continuously revising our delivery schedule and informing the European Commission on a weekly basis of our plans to bring more vaccines to Europe,” said the AstraZeneca spokesperson.

The relationship between the drugmaker and the Commission has been strained since the start of the year when the Commission complained AstraZeneca was honouring its contractual obligations with Britain at the expense of the bloc.

The fallout led to the now infamous decision by Brussels to introduce export restrictions on EU-manufactured vaccines to third countries and the albeit brief invocation of Article 16 of the NI Protocol, effectively imposing a hard vaccine border on the island of Ireland.

It soured further after the efficacy of the vaccine made in collaboration with Oxford University was questioned both in Germany and France.

French president Emmanuel Macron deepened last month’s bitter row between AstraZeneca and the EU when he disputed the vaccine’s effectiveness for the most vulnerable large group, the over-65s.

“Everything suggests that it is almost ineffective for those over 65, and some say over 60,” he said.

The question mark over the vaccine’s effectiveness originally came from Germany. Newspaper, Handelsblatt claimed the jab was only 8% effective for the over-65s without providing any evidence. The German health ministry then clarified the 8% figure referred to the relatively low percentage of participants drawn from that age group who took part in clinical trials.

German tabloid BILD reports that 1.2 million AstraZeneca jabs remain unused in the country with the jab still proving to remain “unpopular even after two weeks.”

“The vaccination booths are ready, the vaccine is there and so are the vaccination teams,” said epidemiologist Karl Lauterbach in response to reports vaccination centres only giving out the Oxford jab are being avoided. At one centre in Berlin, just 200 people a day are turning up for their appointments out of almost 4,000.  

“But the vaccine remains unused because not enough people show up for the appointment. This is an absurd and unbearable situation,” Lauterbach added.

“It can always be worse!” reports the German press this evening upon hearing the news of AstraZeneca’s latest setback.