The E U / AstraZeneca row over covid vaccine deliveries deepened Friday, just as a team of experts from the World Health Organization began its much-awaited investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic in China.
Leaders of the 27-nations bloc resorted to tactics, in a bid to force the pharmaceutical colossus to commence immediate shipment of covid-19 vaccines from Britain to the region to assuage a shortfall in doses.
Earlier this week, dispute on allegation that AstraZeneca failed to honor pre- arranged supplies of coronavirus jab to European Union countries sparked denials from the firm.
On Wednesday, the company refuted pulling out of a meeting to discuss the vaccine supplies with the bloc after a rumor in the morning indicating AstraZeneca had cancelled plans to attend the meeting, saying planned talks with EU would still go ahead.
AstraZeneca had on Tuesday confirmed that the UK would have the first claim on vaccines produced in the country.
The EU president Ursula von der Leven in a radio interview claimed that the commission’s contract with the company was “crystal clear” and commanded its publication.
That gave force to Ms von der Leven’s Tuesday night threats to a virtual assembly of the World Economic Forum, saying “Europe invested billions to help develop the world’s first Covid-19 vaccines. And now, the companies must deliver.”
She also hinted the contract did not specify “ordering sequence”, while it indicated four production sites, with two of them in Britain.
European countries are grappling vaccines short falls, especially at centers in Paris, Lisbon and Madrid following delays by the bloc in bulk-purchasing supplies as well as production glitches.
AstraZeneca’s chief executive, Pascal Soriot told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica the supplies hitches were the result of Brussels lagging by three months behind London to seal an agreement with it.
The EU made a pre-purchase agreement in August for the supply of at least 300 million doses. But, the UK had already vied ahead ordering 100 million doses in May and financing from even earlier in the year to boost production facilities.
Soriot remarked the firm experienced teething problems with the UK.
Doses of the AstraZeneca for UK are assumed to be made in sites in Oxford and Staffordshire, before been set into vials in Wareham.
Meanwhile, UK today indicated the possibility that it might give doses of coronavirus vaccines to Europe after the rollout to older people of 50s has been completed.
A senior cabinet minister Michael Gove provoked the speculation of a goodwill gesture to the EU countries.
This probability is reasonable: UK has pre-purchased 367 million doses from seven different manufacturers and there could be some left over if deliveries are made on time.