EU seeks to access AstraZeneca vaccines produced in United States

covid-vaccine
The Financial Times reported the news on Saturday. Photo: PA Images.
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Thomson Reuters

The European Union will urge the United States to permit the export of millions of doses of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine to Europe, the Financial Times reported on Saturday.

The move underlines Brussels' scramble to bridge supply shortfalls.

The EU also wants Washington to ensure the free flow of shipments of crucial vaccine ingredients needed in European production, according to the report.

"We trust that we can work together with the US to ensure that vaccines produced or bottled in the US for the fulfilment of vaccine producers' contractual obligations with the EU will be fully honoured,” the newspaper quoted the European Commission as saying.

It comes as the Commission and Italy blocked a shipment of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine destined for Australia earlier this week, after the drug manufacturer failed to meet its EU contract commitments.

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Sources said AstraZeneca had requested permission from the Italian government to export some 250,000 doses from its Anagni plant, near Rome.

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The Italian government refused and the European Commission supported its decision, the sources said. An EU source in Brussels said national authorities had the final say in such matters.

There was no immediate comment from AstraZeneca.

The move came just days after prime minister Mario Draghi, who took office last month, told fellow EU leaders that the bloc needed to speed up vaccinations and crack down on pharma companies that failed to deliver on promised supplies.

EU countries started inoculations at the end of December, but are moving at a far slower pace than other nations, including Israel and ex-EU member Britain. Officials have blamed the slow progress in part on supply problems with key manufacturers.

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