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As supplies drop, the European Union is seeking US-made AstraZeneca strikes

BRUSSELS: The Financial Times reports that the European Union will urge the United States to allow the export of millions of doses of AstraZenec’s Covid-19 vaccine as it scrambles to fill the supply shortage.

The 27-nation European Union wants Washington to ensure the free flow of shipments of essential vaccine components into European production, according to a Financial Times report on Saturday.

“We are confident that we can work with the United States to ensure that vaccines produced or packaged in the United States to fulfill contractual obligations of vaccine manufacturers with the European Union will be fully met,” the Financial Times quoted the European Commission as saying.

European Union countries began vaccinating at the end of December, but they are moving at a much slower pace than other rich countries, including former member Britain and the United States.

Officials blame the slow progress in part on supply problems with manufacturers.

The European Commission and Italy this week blocked a shipment of AstraZeneca Corona virus vaccine destined for Australia after the drug’s manufacturer failed to fulfill its contractual obligations with the European Union.

The Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company has come under heavy criticism in the European Union for its delay in supplying shots to the 27-nation bloc, which had ordered 300 million doses by the end of June.

“We are working 24/7 to improve delivery and hope to catch up with expectations for the second quarter,” AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Suriot told EU lawmakers at a public hearing in February.

Two European Union sources told Reuters on Thursday that the bloc also plans to extend the permit to export Covid-19 vaccines until the end of June.

Under the scheme, companies must obtain permission before exporting Covid-19 footage, and export orders may be rejected if they do not honor EU supply obligations.

The European Commission and AstraZeneca were not available for comment.

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