European officials told Reuters that AstraZeneca has offered to bring some shipments of its Covid-19 vaccine to the European Union, while the union has asked the British pharmaceutical company to divert doses from the United Kingdom to make up for the shortage of supplies.
The Anglo-Swedish company unexpectedly announced on Friday that it would cut supplies to the European Union of its candidate vaccine in the first quarter of this year, a move a senior EU official told Reuters that it would mean a 60% reduction to 31 million doses for the European Union.
This complicated vaccination plans in the European Union, after Pfizer also announced a temporary slowdown in the delivery of its vaccine, sparking an outcry in Brussels and European Union capitals.
Two European officials told Reuters on Tuesday that AstraZeneca at two extraordinary meetings on Monday offered the European Union to go ahead on February 7 with the start of handover from an initial plan beginning on February 15.
One of the sources, who was briefed on the talks, said AstraZeneca also revised its increased supply targets for February compared to the cuts announced last week, but the company did not provide any clarification on supplies for March.
This appears to be a move by AstraZeneca to try to keep the peace with the European Union as the dispute escalates over its sudden cut-off delivery, damaging the trust between Brussels and the pharmaceutical company before the shot is approved in the region.
The second EU official, which is directly participating in the talks, said there was no offer to increase supplies.
AstraZeneca has quarterly display targets. So an increase in February, if not followed by a rise in March, may not constitute an overall increase in the quarter.
Lithuanian Medicines Control Authority chief Getis Androlionis told Reuters that AstraZeneca had increased planned supplies for February to Lithuania and other European Union countries compared to the cuts lowered on Friday, but indicated that this was still insufficient to comply with the EU contract.
AstraZeneca could not be reached for comment.
After Monday’s meetings, EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said AstraZeneca did not provide adequate answers to the questions posed by the European Union.
The EU official involved in the talks also said that the EU had openly asked AstraZeneca if it could convert doses of the 27-country block produced in Britain, at least until March.
But the official said the company did not answer these questions.
AstraZeneca said the revised schedule was due to production problems in Europe. A senior European Union official told Reuters last week that the problem was at a vaccine factory in Belgium run by Novacib, AstraZeneca partner.
A European Commission spokesman declined to comment on the details of the talks with AstraZeneca, but added that the European Union wanted a “precise delivery schedule”.
On December 30, Britain granted emergency approval for the shot developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford. A decision on EU delegation is expected on Friday.