EU snubs AstraZeneca and sensationally turns down option for 300m Covid vaccines

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The European Commission is expected to turn down the doses after opting to distance itself from the two jabs in recent weeks. Brussels is furious that Anglo-Swedish drugs giant AstraZeneca has not delivered enough doses of its Oxford-produced shot to member states. And has now decided that it will only opt to buy up COVID-19 vaccines that use the mRNA technology – such as Pfizer and Modern.

The EU has so far agreed to buy 400 million doses of the US-made J&J shot and another 400 million of the AstraZeneca jab.

But it has decided that it will only take 200 million of the American Covid vaccine and 300 million of the Oxford alternative from of its current orders.

An EU official told the Reuters news agency: “There is no need to exercise the options.”

The European Commission, AstraZeneca and J&J declined to comment on the issue.

EU governments remain under pressure to ramp up their vaccination rates amid a devastating third wave of infections.

But some insist on restricting the use of the AstraZeneca and J&J vaccines over fears they cause blood clots.

 

The European Medicines Agency listed the side effect as “very rare” and insisted the benefits of receiving the jabs outweigh the risks of it.

Both firms have announced delays this year to their shipments to member states because of production hiccups.

Instead the Commission is expected to open talks to buy a further 1.8 million Pfizer-made vaccines over the coming years.

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It wants to use the German-designed jab for all future Brussels-led boost programmes to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said this was because Pfizer had “proven to be a reliable partner”.

In a press statement last week, the German said: “To prepare for the future, we are drawing the lessons from the first phase of our answer to the pandemic.

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“It is clear that to defeat the virus decisively, we will need to be prepared for the following: At a certain point in time, we might need booster jabs to reinforce and prolong immunity; and if escape-variants occur, we will need to develop vaccines that are adapted to new variants; and we will need them early and in sufficient quantities.

“Having this in mind we need to focus on technologies that have proven their worth. mRNA vaccines are a clear case in point.”

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