Friday 22 January 2021 8:31 pm

Astrazeneca delays vaccine delivery to EU by '60 per cent'

Astrazeneca will slash the supply of it Covid vaccine to the EU by 60 per cent in first quarter, according to reports.

The company was expected to deliver to the 27 EU countries around 80m doses by the end of March, but will now only be able to deliver 31m doses, Reuters reported.

It comes after the company earlier today warned EU countries that it will not be able to deliver agreed volumes of its Covid vaccine by the proposed timeline.

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The European Commission said it hopes to have vaccines “as quickly as possible and in line with the agreements.” 

A spokesperson for Astrazeneca, said: “While there is no scheduled delay to the start of shipments of our vaccine should we receive approval in Europe, initial volumes will be lower than originally anticipated due to reduced yields at a manufacturing site within our European supply chain.”

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It added that it would be supplying “tens of millions of doses in February and March to the European Union, as we continue to ramp up production volumes.”

The vaccine, made in collaboration with the University of Oxford, was the first to be pre-ordered by the bloc ahead of emergency authorisation. 

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen earlier this month upped the EU’s total order book for the jab to 400m doses, which will be enough to immunize almost half the region’s 446m population. 

But the delay will come as a further blow to several member states, who have already expressed frustration over the slow rollout of the Pfizer vaccine.

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Around a third of the 27 EU governments slammed the “unacceptable” and  “insufficient” doses of vaccines at a meeting of health ministers last week, with others raising concern about future scale-up.

Belgium has said it expects to receive around half of its planned doses of the Pfizer vaccine in January due to a logistical issue. Meanwhile Lithuania was told last week that its supplies would be halved until mid-February.

In a statement last week, Pfizer said shipments were being held back by changes to its manufacturing processes designed to boost production.

“Although this will temporarily impact shipments in late January to early February, it will provide a significant increase in doses available for patients in late February and March,” the company said.

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