EU vaccine rollout comes under fire
February 1, 2021 - The European Union’s vaccine rollout has come under fire for its slow pace, with bloc-wide shortages leading to a bitter dispute with AstraZeneca and a bid to block vaccine exports.
On Monday (February 1), Pfizer promised to deliver up to 75 million more coronavirus vaccine doses to the EU in the second quarter of 2021. The statement followed an announcement on January 15 when Pfizer and the EU clashed over a reduction in deliveries during an upgrade at its plant in Belgium, which provides European supplies.
Meanwhile, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has agreed to supply nine million additional doses of its vaccine to the EU during the first quarter.
AstraZeneca’s announcement on January 22 that deliveries to the EU will be cut from 80 million doses to 31 million in the first quarter due to a production glitch at its Belgian and Dutch production sites also triggered a high-profile row with the European Commission.
EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides demanded AstraZeneca divert vaccines from its UK facilities to the EU. And on Friday Commission President Ursula von der Leyen compounded the row with a bombshell text over new EU vaccine export controls.
The text triggered Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol to halt vaccine exports entering the UK via Northern Ireland. Amid uproar in Dublin, London and Belfast von der Leyen made a humiliating climbdown.
Britain added further to its stocks on Monday, ordering another 40 million doses of vaccine from Valneva.