AstraZeneca has warned EU officials that the delivery of vaccines in the first quarter of this year will be delayed due to issues with European manufacturing.
A warning from AstraZeneca that initial supplies of its Covid vaccinations to Europe will be lower than expected has sparked fresh concern over the rollout of inoculations, forcing some countries to plan for a sharp drop in deliveries.
AstraZeneca said it would still be able to start delivering vaccines upon anticipated approval of the shot in Europe, a spokesman said Friday evening.
Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte meanwhile said in a post to his Facebook page that the government was considering legal action against AstraZeneca's "unacceptable" announcement. As confirmed by the British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca, the European Union will soon receive less of the vaccine than originally planned. He declined to specify the size of the shortfall or the reason, except to say it was because of reduced yields at a manufacturing site in the company's European supply chain.
The EU has so far has approved vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
AstraZeneca has warned European Union countries it will cut deliveries of its Covid-19 vaccine by 60 per cent to 31 million doses in the first quarter due to production problems.
Although Egypt received 50,000 doses in December from its close ally the United Arab Emirates, no African country has received enough supply to start rolling out mass vaccination.
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"Now AstraZeneca puts a real problem in our midst, but we're gonna have to deal with it and see what else we can do", he added.
The company's vaccine, headquartered in Cambridge, UK, has been vaccinated in the UK since the beginning of the month.
It was not clear how many doses AstraZeneca had initially been expected to deliver to the 27-country bloc.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has the advantage of being cheaper to produce and being simpler to store and transport than its rivals.
A RAM airplane flew to Mumbai Thursday and returned to Morocco Friday with onboard two million doses of the coronavirus vaccine, ending weeks of waiting and uncertainties.
Regulators in Britain and several other countries have already given the vaccine the green light. They will then evaluate the processes that can be employed for the rapid production of adjusted Covid-19 vaccines, if necessary.