EU AstraZeneca Row Gets Heated

Despite not having yet approved the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and not having placed any provisional orders until a full three months later than the UK, the EU is now making moves to prevent any leaving the protectionist bloc. As AstraZeneca’s CEO Pascal Soriot told Italy’s la Repubblica yesterday:

“… we are basically two months behind where we wanted to be. We’ve had also teething issues like this in the UK supply chain. But the UK contract was signed three months before the European vaccine deal. So with the UK we have had an extra three months to fix all the glitches we experienced. As for Europe, we are three months behind in fixing those glitches.

Not only is the EU three months behind the UK on technical glitch fixes, but also because of the bloc’s bureaucratic delay in signing a contract, AstraZeneca pledged a “best effort” not a commitment to fulfil the order numbers. Soriot went on to say…

“… we didn’t commit with the EU, by the way. It’s not a commitment we have to Europe: it’s a best effort, we said we are going to make our best effort. The reason why we said that is because Europe at the time wanted to be supplied more or less at the same time as the UK, even though the contract was signed three months later. So we said, “ok, we’re going to do our best, we’re going to try, but we cannot commit contractually because we are three months behind UK”.”

Yet despite the facts on the ground the EU is now panicking. This afternoon, Madrid cancelled all planned vaccinations for two weeks as Spain ran out of supplies. Germany last night formally demanded that EU grant it powers to block the export of all vaccines produced within the EU. Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides delivered an angry press conference this afternoon saying:

“Pharmaceutical companies and vaccine manufacturers have moral, societal and contractual obligations that they must assume.”

Kyriakides does not accept the distinction between best effort and commitments. Nor that the EU should have been more nimble in its procurement, and urgent in its approval. And perhaps if the bloc stopped briefing fake and incendiary news reports about efficacy of AstraZeneca vaccine they would be more inclined to work together… 

mdi-tag-outline Vaccine
mdi-account-multiple-outline Pascal Soriot Stella Kyriakides
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