European Commission will get 60% less AstraZeneca vaccines

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EU leaders are investigating why AstraZeneca are not following through with the pre-agreed number of vaccines for the Member States – taking a 60% cut to the expected amount

According to the initial contract signed on 28 August, 2020, the EU would have the option to buy 300 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine – with the option to buy a further 100 million.

The AstraZeneca vaccine clocked in at 70.4% effective when all results were averaged.

This was due to a happy mistake that led to scientists discovering that a half-dose, followed by a full dose a month later, would produce an efficacy of 90% – 40% above the minimum requirements for a COVID-19 vaccine to be considered successful.

AstraZeneca worked alongside Oxford University to create this vaccine, and it is currently one of the most used in the UK.

It was the second vaccine to gain approval in the US and in the EU.

The EU will receive 60% less than expected

However, officials in Brussels are currently experiencing a different reality from the promise of 300 million vaccines made in the Summer.

The company was meant to deliver 80 million of those doses by the end of March, 2021. However, the EU has been informed that there will be 31 million doses sent to the Bloc instead. According to an official, there are production issues.

Playbook reported on an email from AstraZeneca: “While there is no scheduled delay to the start of shipments of our vaccine should we receive approval in Europe, initial volumes will be lower than originally anticipated due to reduced yields at a manufacturing site within our European supply chain.”

There are currently 446 million inhabitants of Europe, the majority still waiting for inoculation. The procurement strategy of the EU has been criticised in recent days, as vaccination rollout appears slower than comparative States, like the US.

The TRIPS agreement still in place

However, while these contract disagreements continue, there are several countries across the world who are unable to compete for access to the vaccine. These countries are limited by intellectual property rules, which place them at a significant disadvantage in the global vaccine market.
These countries are still waiting to begin their vaccination programmes, while attempting to navigate the opposition of richer countries.
Rachel Thrasher, Research Fellow at the Global Development Policy Center in Boston, wrote: “The TRIPS Council, a group tasked with administering the agreement and facilitating discussion among members, met informally to once more discuss a proposal to suspend certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement.
“And, once more, key developed countries and a handful of emerging markets stood against the majority of members and rejected such an idea.”
Will an early February meeting be enough to change the minds of States who veto this suspension – in the wake of losing 60% of their vaccine access?

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