As of: 01/29/2021 10:58 am
In the dispute over the vaccine deliveries, EU Commission chief von der Leyen increases the pressure on AstraZeneca. In order to dispel any doubts about the commitments agreed in the contract, it should be made public today.
In the dispute over impending bottlenecks in the delivery of the corona vaccine, the EU is demanding that AstraZeneca keep the promises made. “There are binding orders and the contract is crystal clear,” said the head of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen Deutschlandfunk.
In the contract that was concluded, delivery quantities for the first three quarters of this year and the corresponding production locations were clearly stipulated. Von der Leyen announced that the contract would be published later that day.
Understanding of starting difficulties
The head of the commission showed understanding that there could be teething problems given the short time in which a vaccine was developed. “That’s okay,” said von der Leyen, but at the same time called for “transparency and planning security”.
Originally, AstraZeneca had promised to deliver around 80 million vaccine doses to the EU by the end of March. But then the pharmaceutical company announced delays due to problems at production sites. In the meantime, it was said that the company could only deliver around a quarter of the vaccine doses that were promised during this period. In Great Britain, where the manufacturer’s vaccine has already received emergency approval, AstraZeneca has so far fulfilled the agreed quota.
According to an EU representative, the company had offered the Union eight million additional doses of vaccine earlier this week. Instead of the surprisingly announced 31 million cans, 39 million cans should be delivered by the end of March. The EU had rated this offer as inadequate because the amount of vaccine was still well below the originally agreed number.
No comprehensible reasons for bottlenecks given
The EU therefore still does not want to accept the bottlenecks. AstraZeneca did not give a comprehensible reason for the drastic reduction in the delivery quantity and had to meet its delivery obligations, emphasized von der Leyen and pressed for a solution. But this has not yet been found in several talks between the group and the EU.
Instead, the head of the pharmaceutical company, Pascal Soriot, rejected the statement that clear delivery quantities had been agreed with the EU. The contract only contains a so-called best effort clause, which obliges his company to do its best to deliver the vaccine. He also stated that since the contract with Great Britain had been concluded much earlier, AstraZeneca had more time to fix breakdowns.
The conclusion of the contract at a later date does not matter
Arguments that von der Leyen refuses to accept. The contract with AstraZeneca was agreed in good time. The fact that Great Britain ordered earlier does not play a role in the company’s delivery obligations. “It’s not like at the bakery where you stand in line.”
The debate about the possible delivery problems had also provoked criticism of the EU – especially with regard to the lack of insight into the contracts concluded with vaccine suppliers. The EU now wants to counteract this by publishing the AstraZeneca contract. The EU Commission had also previously announced a transparency register. This should record the time in which a pharmaceutical company produced how much corona vaccine and where the vaccine is delivered.
“No short cut in security”
But AstraZeneca’s vaccine is not yet approved for the EU. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) will decide on this later in the day. Von der Leyen defended the decision much later than in Great Britain. Here the vaccine had already received emergency approval at the end of December. In this emergency too, the EU consciously relies on conditional market approval instead of just emergency approval, because there should be “no shortcut to safety”. “You have to take your time for these three or four weeks,” said von der Leyen.
The Standing Vaccination Commission of the Robert Koch Institute has already recommended using the AstraZeneca vaccine – but only for 18 to 64 year olds. The effectiveness in people who are older is not sufficiently proven. The media had also reported that the vaccine had hardly any effect on people over 65, but this was denied by both AstraZeneca and the Federal Ministry of Health.