Green light for Astra Zeneca’s vaccine, but the dispute with the EU is entering the next round.
While waiting for the good news – finally, Astra Zeneca, a third corona vaccine has been approved for the EU – the next bad one burst in on Friday: The US pharmaceutical company Moderna also has delivery problems.
His vaccine received the green light in the EU four weeks ago. But here too there are production problems. This means that Austria, which ordered 200,000 cans in the first quarter, has to be prepared for cuts. Yet again.
The greatest hopes for a quick vaccination course in this country had always been on the average of Astra Zeneca anyway. The British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant’s corona vaccine was finally approved on Friday. The EU Medicines Agency EMA gave its green light – for all age groups. The EMA announced that the remedy is also effective for people over 70.
The National Vaccination Committee decides whether people over 65 years of age in Austria are vaccinated with the product.
Austria is still advising
Health Minister Rudolf Anschober expects an answer by Sunday, “whether the submission of supplementary studies for this group, which are planned for February, should be awaited before using the vaccine for this age group.” The decisions of the National Vaccination Board on Monday will be discussed with the state governors. “The Astra-Zeneca agent is a vector vaccine that is inoculated in two doses. According to the EMA, the interval between the two vaccinations should be “between four and 12 weeks”.
But Europe’s hopes for quick vaccination courses have been sound and smoke since Astra Zeneca suddenly announced a week ago: Delivery problems – 60 percent of the promised doses would not come in the first quarter. Transferred to Austria: Instead of the expected two million cans, only 600,000 are now to be expected. For the entire EU: instead of 80 million, only 31 million cans.
Since then, an open vaccine war has been raging between the EU Commission and Astra Zeneca.
“There are binding orders and the contract is crystal clear,” said commission chief Ursula von der Leyen to Deutschlandfunk. The contract specifies the exact delivery quantities for the first, second and third quarters.
The hitherto secret contract was finally published yesterday. The most important passages are blackened out. Nevertheless, the budgetary spokesman for the Greens in the EU Parliament, Rasmus Andresen, sees the EU Commission in the right: “The brazen claims of Astra Zeneca boss Soriot are largely invalidated by the inspection of the contract. Astra Zeneca has an obligation to fulfill the contract. “
It is still unclear why the pharmaceutical company has such extremely high delivery failures. And there is still the unspoken suspicion that the company could have sold millions of cans to third countries – and at higher prices. Astra Zeneca categorically rejects this.
But the EU is now unpacking completely different weapons: Pharmaceutical companies must now announce their exports from the EU in advance – and could then even be stopped if necessary. This is particularly aimed at possible exports to the UK. Because the ex-EU country had apparently recently received millions of vaccine doses from Astra-Zeneca factories in the EU.
These export controls are intended to ensure that the required vaccines remain within Europe. “Unfortunately, not all pharmaceutical companies act in a spirit of full transparency,” said EU Commission Deputy Chief Valdis Dombrovskis. He ruled out general export restrictions or export bans for vaccines.
But even with increasing pressure from Europe on Astra Zeneca and even after the approval of the corona vaccine, the problem remains the same: There is too little vaccine in Europe. All three companies, whose funds may be inoculated in the EU, are struggling with delivery problems. As the first EU country, Hungary does not want to wait any longer and ordered not only Russian, but also Chinese vaccines. In the Czech Republic, too, consideration is being given to using Russian serum.