AstraZeneca Plc will deliver less than half the planned number of Covid-19 vaccines to the European Union in the second quarter after the companys efforts to remedy a slew of problems ran into further trouble.
The pharmaceutical giant will deliver about 76 million out of a planned 180 million doses to the bloc in the three-month period through June, according to data based on delivery projections for one member state seen by Bloomberg. The national figures were extrapolated to the EU level based on the European Commissions methodology for distributing supplies.
Astra warned of a shortfall last month after encountering issues with its vaccine yield at EU production sites, but
had said it was looking to make up the loss by shipping some doses from elsewhere, including production sites in the U.S. Those efforts havent panned out because nations have grown increasingly protectionist, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, who didnt want to be identified because the supply details are private. A spokesman for Astra declined to comment and a spokesman for the commission didnt respond to a request.
We have found 75 million doses for the second quarter that were supposed to come from the U.K., the U.S. and to some extent India, Swedens vaccine coordinator, Richard Bergstrom, said in an interview with TV4. Now we have just been told that the company wont be able to get those doses as there are export bans from the U.S. and India, and contractual obstacles to sending doses from the U.K.
The companys problems were compounded earlier on Thursday when Denmark, Italy and Norway joined a growing list of European countries that have suspended the use of some or all of their Astra Covid shots following concerns it could cause blood clots.
European Vaccine Supplies
The EU is due to receive a billion doses by the end of September
Source: Data is based on delivery projections for one member state seen by Bloomberg. The national figures were extrapolated to the EU level based on that country’s share of deliveries received so far
The EU is expecting to receive almost 400 million vaccine doses in the second quarter, with the biggest number coming from
Pfizer Inc. and
BioNTech SE. Another 640 million shots are lined up for the third quarter. The commission has committed to immunizing 70% of adults by the end of September.
The European Commission had
warned EU diplomats this week that supply of the vaccine developed by Astra and the University of Oxford remained a problem. Astra has revised its delivery schedule multiple times. The company is planning to deliver 40 million doses in the first quarter down from a planned 100 million.
Bergstrom, the Swedish vaccine chief, said the company has been working with European authorities in an effort to solve the supply shortages. AstraZeneca has really made large efforts to find volumes to fulfill the contract, he said.
All the same, Astra is battling negative perceptions of its shot after Austria last weekend suspended the use of one batch of vaccines after reports of a death and an illness among recipients. Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Latvia have all suspended use of shots from the batch, the European Medicines Agency said.
Read More: Drug Regulator Backs Astra Shot After Suspensions in Europe
The EU drugs regulator said the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine still outweigh the risks and there is currently no indication that the shot caused the health problems. The EMA is investigating the concerns raised by national authorities.
Danish health authorities
said Thursday the country would receive about 900,000 fewer Astra doses in the first half of 2021, citing an announcement from the company that it was expecting to halve the number of doses delivered to the EU.
The fact that AstraZeneca is once again downgrading the number of doses delivered to the EU and thus Denmark is, of course, both unsatisfactory and a serious challenge, said Ole Jensen, deputy director at the Statens Serum Institut, said in a statement.
At a meeting of EU ambassadors on Wednesday, diplomats were
told by senior EU officials that Astra continues to be problematic. They also heard that Johnson & Johnson, whose vaccine was
approved for use by the EU Thursday, has yet to provide a delivery schedule for its vaccine.
The EU is
extending its vaccine export control mechanism to the end of June from mid-March, citing persistent delays in some deliveries.
With assistance by Nikos Chrysoloras, Ian Wishart, Zoe Schneeweiss, Alberto Nardelli, and Richard Bravo
(Updates with details of suspension in some EU states from fifth paragraph)
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