The EU vaccine rollout has been plunged into further chaos after AstraZeneca warned it would deliver fewer doses to Europe because of supply problems.
The vaccine, developed with Oxford University, has not yet been approved by the EU regulator but even when the expected green light comes at the end of the month, progress is set to be severely hampered.
AstraZeneca had initially promised to deliver 80 million vaccines to the 27 nations by March, but the order has reportedly been reduced to 31 million – a cut of 60 per cent – in the first quarter of the year.
When the AstraZeneca vaccine is given the green light by the EU regulator, its progress is set to be severely hampered. Picture: Stock
The pharmaceutical giant said only that ‘initial volumes will be lower than originally anticipated’ because of ‘reduced yields’ at one of its manufacturing sites.
EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said there was ‘deep dissatisfaction’ at the news while Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheal Martin said it may have to slow its rollout.
The EU has come under fierce criticism for its laboured rollout of vaccines, with smaller nations accusing the bloc of failing to order enough doses.
According to the most recent data, France has given a first vaccine dose to just 1.4 people per 100, compared to 8.8 per 100 people in the UK.
EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides (pictured) said there was ‘deep dissatisfaction’ at the news while Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheal Martin said it may have to slow its rollout
Meanwhile, The Mail on Sunday can reveal that Matt Hancock was involved in a high-stakes, behind-the-scenes battle to stop President Trump’s administration from diverting supplies of the Oxford University vaccine to the US.
The drama took place in April when the university was in talks about joining with the US firm Merck & Co to manufacture the jab.
The talks broke down after the Health Secretary demanded a written guarantee that the US would not be given priority for the supplies – which was not forthcoming.
Several weeks later, Oxford signed a deal with AstraZeneca instead, helping to place Britain in the vanguard of global vaccine rollout rates.