The EU has announced that the UK-Swedish drug firm AstraZeneca has agreed to supply an additional 9 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by March. The agreement was reached after the critique of the EU's response to the company's vaccination program.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the agreement was a sign of good faith, even though the expected 40 m doses are only half of what the E.U expected.
The commission was involved in a disagreement with both the UK and AstraZeneca
The European Union commission was condemned over its pledge to curb vaccines manufactured in the EU from reaching the UK, which it threatened to carry out by putting border controls on the Northern Ireland border.
The EU was also angry that Britain was getting its ordered supplies from AstraZeneca, prompting the bloc to declare that it was initiating export controls on coronavirus vaccines made inside the EU.
In a tweet, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said AstraZeneca would deliver 9 million additional doses in the first quarter (40 million in total), a 30% increase from the amount offered last week & will start deliveries one week earlier than planned.
The EU signed a deal with AstraZeneca in August
The commission signed a deal in August with the UK-Swedish company for 300 million AstraZeneca doses, with a choice for 100 million more if needed.
The bloc hoped 80 million would be delivered in the first quarter - other sources estimate the figure to be around 100 million - but AstraZeneca said there were production difficulties at its Dutch and Belgian plants. The delay in production will lead to an estimated 60% cut in vaccines supplied at the end of March.
This led to a heated debate between the two parties on contractual obligations, with the EU arguing it was binding and the drug firm saying it had only promised to do its best with fulfilling the orders.