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AstraZeneca recognizes new concerns

The pharmaceutical giant has recognized new production difficulties in Europe for the doses promised to the European Union. Luxembourg had already been informed of certain supply gaps.

The pharmaceutical giant has recognized new production difficulties in Europe for the doses promised to the European Union. Luxembourg had already been informed of certain supply gaps.

(AFP) – AstraZeneca “is working to increase productivity in its supply chain in the EU”, and will use “its global capacity to ensure delivery of 180 million doses to the EU in the second half of the year,” said Tuesday evening to AFP a spokesperson for the British-Swedish group. “About half of the expected volume must come from the supply chain in the EU,” and the rest will come from the international network of the firm, said the spokesperson.

The announcement comes after a controversy over AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine shipments to the European Union in the first quarter of 2021, which has sparked tensions between the EU and the pharmaceutical group. Knowing that for the Grand Duchy, the total expected delivery from the Swedish-British laboratory was 415,000 doses (the allocation plan of the Ministry of Health only mentions 28,771 doses, by the end of March).

An extraordinary European summit will be held on Thursday by videoconference, devoted in particular to the health crisis. And on the eve of this meeting, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, sought to be optimistic in the conflict born with AstraZeneca over delivery delays. “Vaccine manufacturers are our partners in this pandemic” and, while new issues are still on the agenda, “we (them) usually resolve amicably,” she told the German regional daily Augsburger Allgemeine.

Ahead of EU approval of the vaccine in late January, the Anglo-Swedish group allied with Britain’s University of Oxford sparked anger among EU leaders by announcing that it would not be able to hold its target of delivering 400 million doses to the Union due to insufficient production resources in the EU.

The affair also caused diplomatic tension with Great Britain, which left the European bloc for good, with Brussels implicitly accusing AstraZeneca of reserving preferential treatment to Britain to the detriment of the EU.

The UK government has immunized millions of people with the AstraZeneca vaccine from the end of 2020. But the company did not start delivering to the EU until early February 2021, after the European medicines regulator took its time to recommend its use.

At a recent press conference, the Luxembourg Minister of Health spoke of the hazards recorded in the delivery of the expected vaccines in the Grand Duchy. “It can change several times a day,” Paulette Lenert had confided with a touch of weariness. Nowadays, 31,926 doses of vaccines were administered in Luxembourg, all formulas combined (AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna).


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