AstraZeneca says it will be at supply talks after EU claimed firm had pulled out

AstraZeneca has denied pulling out of vaccine talks with the European Union and said they plan to meet officials from the bloc later today in Brussels.

The comments came after EU officials said the pharmaceutical company would not be attending the meeting to discuss delayed vaccine supplies to the bloc. AstraZeneca said on Friday it would not meet its contractual delivery commitments to the EU due to ‘reduced yields’ in the supply chain.

In response, the EU Commissioner for health, Stella Kyriakides blasted the announcement as ‘not acceptable’, and added that the EU would ‘take any action required to protect its citizens and rights’.

AstraZeneca’s chief executive Pascal Soriot later hit back at Kyriakides, and argued that ‘glitches’ in the EU’s supply chain were due to the bloc signing its vaccine contract three months behind the UK.

He told Italian newspaper La Repubblica: ‘The UK contract was signed three months before the European vaccine deal, so with the UK we have had an extra three months to fix all the glitches we experienced.

‘As for Europe, we are three months behind in fixing those glitches.’

The EU has now said all companies within the bloc creating Covid vaccine will need to provide ‘early notification’ when exporting to third countries. This could threaten the UK’s supply of the Pfizer vaccine, which is made in Belgium.

On Tuesday, Boris Johnson said he expected the EU to ‘honour all contracts’ for the Covid vaccine, adding it’s delivery had been a ‘multinational effort’. He added: ‘The delivery of the vaccine is multinational as well, because the virus knows no borders.’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine has also been the subject of scrutiny this week, after it was falsely suggested that the jab is only 8% effective in the over-65s by the German media.

The ‘completely incorrect’ figure actually referred to the number of people in an AstraZeneca study aged between 56 and 69, the German Health Ministry said.

Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi also said the report was ‘complete nonsense’, confirming that the Oxford vaccine offers ‘almost 100% protection from severe infection’.

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