The EU will prevent the export of vaccines if pharmaceutical companies do not guarantee their supply

From the “constructive dialogue” that the European Commission sang as a closure to a rough Wednesday, to the “Willingness to cooperate” that this Thursday was repeated as a new mantra. The bitter conflict that the EU has maintained with AstraZeneca since the pharmaceutical company announced that it would only supply around 25% of the doses purchased by the EU for the first quarter, is redirected to the field of dialogue and good ways for mutual interests and dependence. Without giving up anything, Brussels relaxes the tone and now awaits “solutions” from the Anglo-Swedish company.

They were compromised by their CEO, Pascal Soriot, Wednesday night during a meeting lasting more than three hours. And it seems that we have to wait. «It is evident that the company makes us proposals about how you intend to comply with the terms of the contract. What will those solutions be? Time will tell, “says a spokesman for the European Commission.

Apparent distention a few hours after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) authorizes the commercialization of AstraZeneca serum in the EU – it is expected to be today. And also hours after the button is pressed to activate the mechanism that would block the export of vaccines manufactured here , if Europe is once again in the position that it will receive less than it has paid. “In an ideal world this would not be necessary, but not everything works well,” explained a community official.

Germany advises against AstraZeneca vaccine for over 65s

So (he insists), better mood, but give up nothing. And nothing is nothing. The Executive continues to require AstraZeneca to make public the full content of the contract. And as it continues to not trust it, it has even called for an inspection of its Seneffe plant in Belgium by officials from the Belgian federal drug agency. A “routine”, according to the agency’s spokeswoman, Anne Eeeckhout. But there will be another related to the “production flow.” There are suspicions that doses have come from there for the United Kingdom and other countries.

Nothing controversial if the conflict with the company had not broken out. Because the AstraZeneca management has pointed it out directly for another reason. In that plant in Wallonia (which is added to another in the Netherlands and two more on British soil) a Incidental ‘low productivity’ of serum (in the biological generation phase) and that is the reason that he uses for not being able to fulfill the supply that he has committed to with Europe.

You have to ‘organize’

An explanation that does not add up. Community authorities continue, in effect, to insist that AstraZeneca must ‘organize’ to fulfill its commitment. Or what is the same, that if it has to derive doses manufactured in its plants in the United Kingdom (Oxford and Staffordshire) to reach the European ‘stock’, you will have to. It is the signed. And, of course, he defends that the dispute must be resolved between the EU – and the company, without interference from the Boris Johnson government.

The point is that, despite the renewed mood, all fronts remain open. So much so that it is not even certain that the EMA authorization of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be complete. It could be a sort of ‘yes’ with nuances. Germany recommended this Thursday that this serum not be inoculated in people over 65 years of age “due to lack of data on its effectiveness.” This despite the fact that the United Kingdom and other countries have been supplying it to the elderly for weeks.

And we come to the other effect of the conflict with AstraZeneca. The ‘protectionist’. The European Commission will adopt this Friday the so-called ‘Mechanism of Transparency and Licensing for Exports’. The companies will be obliged to inform the national authorities of the vaccine exports (production factory, number of doses and final destination) and States will have to decide with Brussels if departures are authorized. “And all in less than 24 hours,” stressed a community source.

Brussels insists that it will not be a “blocking” tool, that there will only be a stop at customs when “inconsistencies” are detected. They will act based on “legally sound criteria,” insisted the same sources. Criteria that were still being defined yesterday. The mechanism is adopted “emergency” and for a limited time (one quarter).

As a reference for a similar action would be the control imposed on the sale of masks and sanitary equipment, which was activated with the outbreak of the pandemic in Europe. There will be no restrictions if the vaccines travel to neighboring countries (Western Balkans, for example) and humanitarian actions.

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