After AstraZeneca confirmed initial deliveries to the EU of the Covid-19 vaccine it is developing with Oxford University would fall short of the targeted volumes because of a glitch in production (see 4.58pm), Austria has warned that any delay would be unacceptable.
Austrian health minister Rudolf Anschober warned the drugmaker that any delay would be “absolutely unacceptable”, though he stopped short of confirming reports in Austrian media that the company had told the country it could only supply 600,000 vaccine doses in the first quarter rather than the 2 million originally planned, Reuters reports.
“Agreed delivery amounts must be stuck to,” Anschober said in a statement. Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Monday that he and his counterparts from Denmark and Greece would pressure the European Medicines Agency to rapidly approve AstraZeneca’s vaccine. The Baltic states and the Czech Republic have joined that effort.
The EU has struck a deal to purchase at least 300 million doses from AstraZeneca, with an option for an additional 100 million, part of the company’s global commitments to supply more than 3 billion doses.
The delay hampers a European immunisation campaign that has already been blighted by a temporary shortfall in the supply chain of vaccine developers Pfizer and BioNTech, who are modifying a site in Belgium to boost output.
A decision on the EU’s regulatory approval of the compound has been expected for the end of January, Reuters reports. It comes as the European commission seeks clarification from Pfizer over whether there will be fresh delays in delivering Covid vaccines to EU countries next week (see 12.09pm).