EU Vaccine Boss Says Will Use All Tools Available Over AstraZeneca Shortfalls

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -
A syringe with the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19. (Tobias Schwarz / Pool via AP)

The European Commission’s chief vaccine negotiator Sandra Gallina said on Tuesday the European Union will use all available means to secure COVID-19 vaccine produced by AstraZeneca.

She did not elaborate on which tools would be used, but the head of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen has threatened a tightening of export controls on drug makers that fail to comply with their supply contracts with the EU.

AstraZeneca said earlier in March it would aim to deliver to the European Union 100 million vaccines by the end of June, three times fewer than it had committed to in the contract with the EU.

“We intend to take action,” Gallina told EU lawmakers, adding that the EU will use “all the tools at our disposal to get the (AstraZeneca) doses.”

“It’s a shame, it’s reputational damage,” Gallina said and noted that only one of the five vaccine-production plants listed in the EU contract with AstraZeneca was delivering vaccines to the EU.

The contract lists two factories in Britain, one in the Netherlands, one in Belgium. Another one in the United States is listed as a back-up supplier. Currently, only the plant in Belgium, run by Thermo Fisher Scientific, is producing shots for the EU.

The Commission has also started a procedure foreseen under the contract with AstraZeneca that could lead to legal action against the company.