A file photo of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine Photograph:( Reuters )
The company had previously warned it was facing shortfalls from its European supply chain due to "lower-than-expected output from the production process" and was hoping to compensate in part by sourcing vaccines from its global network
European Union is facing fresh shortfall of coronavirus vaccines after Anglo/Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca said production problems and export restrictions would reduce vaccine delivery. Several countries have suspended use of AstraZeneca vaccines over blood clot fears. AstraZeneca's image has taken a hit even after World Health Organisation (WHO) said that there was no reason to stop using it.
The company had previously warned it was facing shortfalls from its European supply chain due to "lower-than-expected output from the production process" and was hoping to compensate in part by sourcing vaccines from its global network.
"Unfortunately, export restrictions will reduce deliveries in the first quarter, and are likely to affect deliveries in the second quarter," it confirmed in a statement sent to AFP on Saturday.
AstraZeneca started delivering vaccines to European Union in February. It aims to deliver 100 million doses in first half of 2021.
AstraZeneca had initially agreed to supply three times as many doses in the first quarter, and 180 million doses in second quarter alone.
The EU on Saturday sidestepped the issue of the number of AstraZeneca doses it was expecting. "We are aware that the company is experiencing supply issues and that discussions are on-going," it said.
Germany has already reported adverse effects due to the delay, the state of Thuringia cancelling appointments and suspending a pilot project for general practitioners to administer the vaccine.
Thuringia had been due to receive 31,200 doses next week, but the number has been reduced to 9,600.
The state's health minister, Heike Werner, called the delay "absolutely unacceptable".
French Prime Minister Jean Castex said his government still expected to exceed a target of 10 million vaccinated by April 15, though he deplored that some labs were not respecting delivery deadlines.
Castex defended the use of the AstraZeneca jab despite precautions taken by other nations.
"I would not allow myself to send poison to my fellow citizens," he said during a visit to a vaccination centre.
(With AFP inputs)