Olivier Hoslet, Pool Photo via AP
AstraZeneca will supply the EU with nine million additional doses of its coronavirus vaccine, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Sunday, amid a row with the pharmaceutical company over the quantity of initial doses.
That will bring the total number of doses delivered in the first quarter of the year to 40 million, still just half of the 80 million doses originally agreed on.
Von der Leyen said it was a “step forward on vaccines” and that “the company will also expand its manufacturing capacity in Europe” after a row with AstraZeneca escalated over the past week.
The EU had said that AstraZeneca was breaking its contract with the bloc by not fulfilling the doses it had promised and said they would take legal action if need be.
Belgian authorities even inspected the company’s factory after several crisis meetings failed to resolve the issue.
Her announcement about the additional doses came after she met with representatives from six pharmaceutical companies via videoconference on Sunday.
AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said that they had only said they would make their “best effort” and said the EU had been slow to sign a contract. The EU signed a contract with the company in August 2020.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine was officially authorised for use in the EU on Friday. The announcement about deliveries came just ahead of the jab’s authorisation.
The two-dose vaccine developed with Oxford University uses a weakened adenovirus that usually causes the common cold in chimpanzees.
There have been some questions about its efficacy in people over the age of 64, however, with German officials stating they would only give the vaccine to younger people as there wasn’t enough evidence that it was effective in older individuals.