The production of the factories in Seneffe, Belgium, and Halix, in the Netherlands, corresponds “more or less” to the commitments made by AstraZeneca with Brussels, noted the commissioner in an interview with the British newspaper Financial Times. “I know [a AstraZeneca] producing more we have no problem, but as long as we do not guarantee what you agreed with us, the doses are in Europe – except Covax ”, said Breton, referring to the international scheme that aims to get vaccines to the poorest countries.
“These comments are disappointing,” said a British government official in the same daily. “The only way to win this pandemic together is to find a situation where everyone wins.” For this official, “the imposition of export controls and disregard for legal contracts will only hamper global efforts to increase the production of vaccines and fight the virus”.
London has already complained that the contract signed for the supply of 100 million doses of vaccines includes the right to the doses of AstraZeneca manufactured in the Netherlands. According to British Health Minister Matt Hancock, this is due to the nature of the company’s contracts with the EU and the United Kingdom: “They have a contract based on ‘best efforts’ and we have an exclusive contract” . But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already admitted that it would be difficult for the UK to claim vaccines made in the Union.
The European Commission has insisted for weeks that it is increasingly difficult to explain to citizens that pharmaceutical companies are exporting vaccines while saying they do not have doses to deliver on the domestic market. A week ago, it even advanced with a proposal to block these exports if the principles of reciprocity are not being guaranteed. In this case, Brussels finds out that the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company is not using its British production units to supply the European bloc, contrary to the terms of the contract with the European Commission.
Tim Barrow, a former British ambassador to the EU, was sent to Brussels with proposals to try to resolve the crisis, including the possible “sharing” with the 27 doses made in Leiden, Halifax. After a few more lively exchanges, the two parties issued a statement stating that they wanted to find a solution “where everyone wins and that extends the supply of vaccines to all our citizens”.
The question is to understand exactly what London has to offer when the countries of the Union have already exported 21 million doses of all covid-19 vaccines to the United Kingdom and there have been no exports to the contrary.
“We just want to make sure that [o contrato da AstraZeneca com a UE] is accomplished – and of course we also want to help our British friends, ”said Breton. “But there is nothing to negotiate” between Brussels and London on vaccine production, he stressed.
From an initial commitment to supply 120 million doses of vaccines to the European bloc in the first quarter of this year, AstraZeneca ended up delivering only 30 million. And it expects to supply 70 million doses in the second quarter – much less than the 180 million promised.
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