Why is Europe concerned about the AstraZeneca vaccine?

Ursula von der Leyen hits the table with her fist. Already on the brink of difficulties in the delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Brussels is under pressure following the announcement of delays in the delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Officially participated: a “drop in performance” at a British laboratory manufacturing site.

“Europe has invested billions to develop the first vaccines (…). Now companies must deliver on their promises “, recalled the president of the European Commission on Tuesday. Although the green light from the European regulator is expected this Friday, January 29, Ursula von der Leyen phoned the head of AstraZeneca to remind him “that the EU had invested large amounts (…) precisely to ensure that production is accelerated” before marketing.

Another reason that contributes to this concern, two German media, the newspaper Bild and the economic newspaper Handelsblattsaid Monday that Berlin doubted the efficacy of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford, in people over 65 years of age. According to Handelsblatt, Berlin had an efficacy of only 8% for this age group, which threatens approval of the vaccine.

Data denied on January 26 by German authorities. The newspapers “confused” several data located in studies on the effectiveness of the vaccine, which are currently being evaluated by European health authorities, said the Health Ministry. The British pharmaceutical company had already defended the effectiveness of its vaccine on Monday night.

“We see that the doses are being administered elsewhere.”

Brussels now demands counterparts from AstraZeneca and its competitors. “We are going to establish a transparency mechanism on vaccine exports”, recalled the head of the European executive. This mechanism, the elaboration of which remains unclear, would require pharmaceutical companies tothey notify Brussels of their exports outside the EU of the doses produced there.

Is there a link to the delivery delays announced by AstraZeneca? “We are trying to understand the problem,” observed a spokesman for the EU executive. “We see that doses are being administered elsewhere. However, we signed an agreement (with AstraZeneca) in August (2020), Member States placed their orders in October. Now we are at the end of January, these doses should be ready for delivery ”.

The laboratory, already convened on Monday for two meetings with representatives of the member states and the Commission, will have to explain itself again on Wednesday to the same commission.

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