Connect with us

coronavirus

AstraZeneca reaches settlement with EU on COVID-19 vaccine delivery

SHARE:

Published

on

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you've consented to and to improve our understanding of you. You can unsubscribe at any time.

AstraZeneca (AZN.L) and the European Commission have reached a settlement on the delivery of 200 million pending COVID-19 vaccine doses by the drugmaker, ending a row about shortages that had weighed on the company and the region's vaccination campaign, write Pushkala Aripaka, Keith Weir and Ludwig Burger.

The dispute plunged the European Union into crisis earlier this year as states, under pressure to speed up vaccinations, scrambled for shots. It also caused a public relations crisis for AstraZeneca, which is led by Frenchman Pascal Soriot.

Having reduced its initial reliance on the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker, Brussels said parts of the volumes committed under the deal would be transferred outside the EU to ease global vaccine inequality. The bloc's vaccine supplies now come mainly from Pfizer/BioNTech (PFE.N), (22UAy.DE).

Advertisement

As part of Friday's (3 September) settlement, AstraZeneca has committed to deliver 60 million doses of its vaccine, Vaxzevria, by the end of the third quarter this year, 75 million by the end of the fourth quarter and 65 million by the end of the first quarter of 2022.

When including deliveries already made, that schedule maps out the honouring of a 300 million dose bulk purchasing contract struck about a year ago between the company and the EU, after months of conflict over delays.

The European Commission launched legal action against AstraZeneca in April for not respecting that contract and for not having a "reliable" plan to ensure timely deliveries.

Advertisement

The EU's executive body said that under the new agreement, member states would be provided with regular delivery schedules and if there were any delayed doses, capped rebates would be applied. EU members with low inoculation rates would be prioritised, it added.

Vial labelled "AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine" placed on displayed EU flag is seen in this illustration picture taken March 24, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

"There are significant differences in vaccination rates between our member states, and the continued availability of vaccines, including AstraZeneca's, remain crucial," said Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides.

She also said some deliveries under the settlement would go to lower-income countries outside the EU.

"We will continue helping the rest of the world. Our aim is to share at least 200 million doses of vaccines through COVAX with low and middle-income countries until the end of this year," she said, referring to vaccine-sharing facility run by the GAVI Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organization. The European Commission has caught up with its campaign schedule, saying this week that 70% of the European Union's adult population had been fully vaccinated, hitting a target set at the beginning of the year. Read more.

The settlement allows for distribution while the highly-contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus is causing a spike in cases and vaccines are being studied for longevity of protection.

The EU's vaccine needs have for the most part been served by Pfizer and BioNTech because the partners have managed to ramp up production for ample supplies. Concerns over very rare cases of serious blood clotting linked to the Astra shot, co-developed with Oxford University, have weighed on demand for it.

Use of the Astra shot in the region fell further when Germany decided in July that recipients of an initial Astra shot would complete their two-shot regimen with a dose of Pfizer or Moderna.

"I'm very pleased that we have been able to reach a common understanding which allows us to move forward and work in collaboration with the European Commission to help overcome the pandemic," said AstraZeneca senior executive Ruud Dobber.

About 92 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine have been distributed to EU member states so far, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. That is far below the 437 million doses delivered by Pfizer/BioNTech but ahead of the 77 million Moderna (MRNA.O) vaccine doses delivered.

Astra said it had released more than 140 million doses to date at no profit to the EU, including doses that have yet to be delivered to member states and EU consignments to COVAX or to other non-EU states.

coronavirus

EU Digital COVID Certificate: Commission awards €95 million to boost access to tests

Published

on

The Commission has awarded grants to 20 member states totalling €95 million to purchase COVID-19 diagnostic tests to facilitate the delivery of the EU Digital COVID Certificate. This goes hand-in-hand with the continued roll-out of COVID-19 vaccinations and is part of the Commission's commitment to support affordable access to fast and accurate testing for those citizens who have not yet been fully vaccinated, in particular those who cannot get vaccinated due to medical reasons.

The grants, financed through its Emergency Support Instrument (ESI), will allow member states to provide tests. This support, channelled through the national authorities, will cater for the various needs in the different member states. Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said: “The EU Digital COVID Certificate allowed Europeans to resume safe travelling over the summer and has become a symbol of an open and safe Europe. Whilst vaccination is key and our strongest asset to put an end to the pandemic, fast and accurate testing remains important to tackle the spread of COVID-19. The 20 million rapid tests we purchased for member states earlier this year and today's announcements of additional funds prove that we stand firm on our commitment to ensure that citizens have access to tests and that our digital certificates are available for everyone, in particular those who cannot get vaccinated.”

Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said: “Over 400 million Europeans have so far benefited from the Certificate, and 42 countries are already linked to the EU certificate system. This is a major European achievement which has been highly valued by our citizens. Today's grants will further contribute to the use of the certificates and ensure that people can continue to move freely and safely. I welcome this decision and I call on the 20 member states to make the best use of those additional tests.”

Advertisement

The ESI provides a needs‐based, co-ordinated emergency response to help member states address needs related to the immediate acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the exit, recovery and prevention of any resurgence.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

coronavirus

US-EU agenda for beating the global pandemic: Vaccinating the world, saving lives now, and building back better health security

Published

on

Vaccination is the most effective response to the COVID pandemic. The United States and the EU are technological leaders in advanced vaccine platforms, given decades of investments in research and development.

It is vital that we aggressively pursue an agenda to vaccinate the world. Co-ordinated US and EU leadership will help expand supply, deliver in a more coordinated and efficient manner, and manage constraints to supply chains. This will showcase the force of a Transatlantic partnership in facilitating global vaccination while enabling more progress by multilateral and regional initiatives.

Building on the outcome of the May 2021 G20 Global Health Summit, the G7 and US-EU Summits in June, and on the upcoming G20 Summit, the US and the EU will expand cooperation for global action toward vaccinating the world, saving lives now, and building better health security.  

Advertisement

Pillar I: A Joint EU/US Vaccine Sharing Commitment: the United States and the EU will share doses globally to enhance vaccination rates, with a priority on sharing through COVAX and improving vaccination rates urgently in low and lower-middle income countries. The United States is donating over 1.1 billion doses, and the EU will donate over 500 million doses. This is in addition to the doses we have financed through COVAX.

We call for nations that are able to vaccinate their populations to double their dose-sharing commitments or to make meaningful contributions to vaccine readiness. They will place a premium on predictable and effective dose-sharing to maximize sustainability and minimize waste.

Pillar II: A Joint EU/US Commitment to Vaccine Readiness: the United States and the EU will both support and coordinate with relevant organisations for vaccine delivery, cold chain, logistics, and immunization programs to translate doses in vials into shots in arms. They will share lessons learned from dose sharing, including delivery via COVAX, and promote equitable distribution of vaccines.

Advertisement

Pillar III: A Joint EU/US partnership on bolstering global vaccine supply and therapeutics: the EU and the United States will leverage their newly launched Joint COVID-19 Manufacturing and Supply Chain Taskforce to support vaccine and therapeutic manufacturing and distribution and overcome supply chain challenges. Collaborative efforts, outlined below, will include monitoring global supply chains, assessing global demand against the supply of ingredients and production materials, and identifying and addressing in real time bottlenecks and other disruptive factors for global vaccine and therapeutics production, as well as coordinating potential solutions and initiatives to boost global production of vaccines, critical inputs, and ancillary supplies.

Pillar IV: A Joint EU/US Proposal to achieve Global Health Security. The United States and the EU will support the establishment of a Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF) by the end of 2021 and will support its sustainable capitalization.  The EU and United States will also support global pandemic surveillance, including the concept of a global pandemic radar. The EU and the United States, through HERA and the Department of Health and Human Services Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, respectively, will cooperate in line with our G7 commitment to expedite the development of new vaccines and make recommendations on enhancing the world's capacity to deliver these vaccines in real time. 

We call on partners to join in establishing and financing the FIF to support to prepare countries for COVID-19 and future biological threats.

Pillar V: A Joint EU/US/Partners Roadmap for regional vaccine production. The EU and the United States will coordinate investments in regional manufacturing capacity with low and lower-middle income countries, as well as targeted efforts to enhance capacity for medical countermeasures under the Build Back and Better World infrastructure and the newly established Global Gateway partnership. The EU and the United States will align efforts to bolster local vaccine manufacturing capacity in Africa and forge ahead on discussions on expanding the production of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments and ensure their equitable access.

We call on partners to join in supporting coordinated investments to expand global and regional manufacturing, including for mRNA, viral vector, and/or protein subunit COVID-19 vaccines.

More information

Joint statement on the launch of the joint COVID-19 Manufacturing and Supply Chain Taskforce

Continue Reading

coronavirus

Coronavirus: 200th EU disinfection robot delivered to European hospital, a further 100 confirmed

Published

on

On 21 September, the Commission delivered the 200th disinfection robot – to Consorci Corporació Sanitària Parc Taulí hospital in Barcelona. The robots, donated by the Commission, help sanitize COVID-19 patient rooms and are part of the Commission's action to supply hospitals across the EU to help them cope with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Further to these initial 200 robots announced in November last year, the Commission secured the purchase an additional 100, bringing the total donations to 300.

A Europe fit for the Digital Age Executive Vice President for Margrethe Vestager, said: “Assisting member states overcome the challenges of the pandemic continues to be a number one priority and these donations – a very tangible form of support – are a prime example of what can be achieved. This is European solidarity in action and I am pleased to see the Commission can go the extra mile in donating an additional 100 disinfection robots to hospitals in need.”

Twenty-five disinfection robots have already been working night and day across Spain since February to help tackle the spread of the coronavirus. Nearly every EU Member State has now received at least one disinfection robot, which disinfects a standard patient room in under 15 minutes, alleviating hospital staff and offering them and their patients greater protection against potential infection. This action is made possible through the Emergency Support Instrument and the devices are supplied by Danish company UVD robots, which won an emergency procurement tender.

Advertisement

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending