The drugmaker was meant to provide 80mln doses of the jab in the first quarter of 2021 but informed the bloc on Friday that there would be significant shortfalls on the schedule and it would be able to deliver around half of the agreed quantities.
The two parties met on Wednesday night, following some confusion over a potential cancellation of the meeting, where an EU official suggested the FTSE 100 group delivered some supplies that were assigned for the UK to make up for the shortfall.
“We reject the logic of ‘first come, first served’ – that may work at the neighbourhood butchers but not in contracts,” Brussels’s health commissioner Stella Kyriakides was reported as saying by Sky News.
“There is no hierarchy of the factories. You are aware in the contracts there are four factories listed but it does not differentiate between the UK and Europe.”
“The UK factories are part of our advance purchase agreements and that is why they have to deliver.”
We regret the continued lack of clarity on the delivery schedule and request a clear plan from AstraZeneca for the fast delivery of the quantity of vaccines that we reserved for Q1. We will work with the company to find solutions and deliver vaccines rapidly for EU citizens.
— Stella Kyriakides (@SKyriakidesEU) January 27, 2021
On Thursday, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said there will be no interruption to UK vaccine supplies.
“The critical thing is we must make sure that the schedule that has been agreed and on which our vaccination programme has been based and planned goes ahead,” he told the BBC.
“It is the case that the supplies that have been planned, paid for and scheduled should continue, absolutely. There will be no interruption to that.”
Meanwhile, Belgium has launched an investigation into the pharma company’s plant near Brussels to understand whether EU-produced batches have been diverted to the UK.
Chief executive Pascal Soriot said earlier this week the delays are because the bloc signed up supply contracts three months after the UK, therefore Britain had more time to sort out teething problems.
The jab, developed by Oxford University, has still not been approved in Europe.
Valneva starts mass production in Scotland
French firm Valneva has begun large-scale vaccine manufacturing at its Livingston site in Scotland.
It will pump out up to 60mln jabs before the end of the year if the vaccine, now at the first stage of clinical trials, is approved.
London has already secured 60mln doses with options acquire a further 130mln after the authorities’ green light.