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EU says companies ‘must meet obligations’ for Covid-19 vaccines

Image: Alexandros Michailidis, via Shutterstock

Commission president Ursula von der Leyen reminds companies the EU supported their vaccine R&D

The European Commission has warned that companies contracted to deliver Covid-19 vaccines to the EU must meet their obligations, after two reportedly said they would have to delay deliveries.

It also said companies producing Covid-19 vaccines in the EU will have to notify it whenever they want to export vaccines outside the bloc, and that it would create a transparent record of such exports.

In a speech to the World Economic Forum Davos Agenda Week on 26 January, Commission president Ursula von der Leyen (pictured) stressed that the EU had supported the development of some vaccines.

“The EU and others helped with money—large sums were invested—to build research capacities and production facilities early,” she said. “Europe invested billions to help develop the world’s first Covid-19 vaccines. And now the companies must deliver. They must honour their obligations.”

A day earlier, health commissioner Stella Kyriakides criticised the UK-headquartered company AstraZeneca and said it had told the Commission it would not deliver doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to the EU on the agreed timeline.

Fewer doses ‘not acceptable’

“Last Friday, the company AstraZeneca surprisingly informed the Commission and the EU member states that it intends to supply considerably fewer doses in the coming weeks than agreed and announced,” Kyriakides said on 25 January. “This new schedule is not acceptable to the EU.”

Kyriakides said the EU discussed the issue with AstraZeneca, but that the company’s explanations had “not been satisfactory so far” and that another discussion would take place later that day. Research Professional News has contacted AstraZeneca for comment.

AstraZeneca applied for EU approval for its vaccine, developed jointly with the University of Oxford, on 12 January, and is still awaiting a decision. Pfizer, the US-headquartered pharmaceutical company whose Covid-19 vaccine developed with German company BioNTech has been approved for use in the EU, has reportedly also told the bloc that deliveries will be delayed.