Time.news – EU hard line against AstraZeneca. The President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has threatened to block exports of the covid vaccine if the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company fails to meet EU deliveries.
“We have the option of blocking planned exports,” von der Leyen told the German newspaper Funke. And he added: “This is the message for AstraZeneca, respect your contract with Europe before starting shipments to other countries”.
Meanwhile, from sources close to the Italian commissioner structure, it is learned that the doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine prepared in recent days before the stop, together with those already provided, will be delivered next week. This is, in all, over 250 thousand doses, considering the total of the two lots.
The accusations against the United Kingdom
Von der Leyen said the Anglo-Swedish group delivered only 30% of the 90 million doses agreed for the first quarter. AstraZeneca explained that the delays are due to production hitches in its factories in Europe but the simultaneous respect of the established supplies for the United Kingdom it provoked the wrath of Brussels.
On Wednesday, Von der Leyen also threatened to invoke emergency powers to block exports of Covid-19 vaccines from the European Union to ensure “reciprocity” with other exporters. The target of the controversy is the Great Britain, accused of having been able to carry out the vaccination campaign with greater speed than the EU thanks to a de facto blocking of exports of the doses produced on its territory. The accusation was dismissed with disdain by the British premier, Boris Johnson, while the London Foreign Minister, Dominic Raab, asked the president of the European Commission for “explanations”.
“All options on the table”
“All options are on the table”, reiterated Von der Leyen, who announced that the state of the vaccination campaign will be at the top of the agenda of the next European Council, which will take place on 25 and 26 March.
The European Union has already established a special supervision mechanism that requires vaccine suppliers to declare whether they intend to export doses outside the European Union. The blocking of exports can be initiated at the request of a Member State and must then be approved by the European Commission in order to be activated. The only precedent, so far, is the blockade implemented by Italy the export of 250,000 doses directed to Australia on the basis of the “persistent shortage” and “delays in deliveries”.
The imposition of export bans on vaccines has been criticized by Netherlands e Belgium, two nations that host AstraZeneca factories, although only the Belgian plant in Seneffe has received the green light for the production of the whey.
The ‘Financial Times’ revealed in recent days that the Dutch site of Halix, contractor of AstraZeneca, has not yet received the production authorization of the European Medicines Agency (Ema) despite being mentioned in the contract between the group and the European Union.