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Brussels is raising its tone in the face of announced delays in vaccines

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Faced with the multiple delivery delays announced in recent days by pharmaceutical companies, the European Union claims to want to “fight” to enforce contracts and obtain more transparency.

“We see that we must roll up our sleeves and fight to have clarity on the reasons for certain announced delays,” said Sunday, January 24 Charles Michel, the President of the European Council, at the “Grand rendez-vous” of Europe 1 and CNews.

The Pfizer laboratory announced last week a slowdown in its production to change the manufacturing process of its vaccine, so as to speed it up. This resulted in a drop in deliveries of 200,000 doses in France this week, according to the Ministry of Health. Italy, for its part, had to reduce the number of daily vaccinations by more than two thirds.

On Friday, AstraZeneca warned that its first deliveries of vaccines to the European Union would be lower than the volumes agreed with Brussels due to a production problem.

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Request for transparency

Faced with these delays, the European official indicated that he intended to use all the legal means at Europe’s disposal to enforce the delivery contracts for Covid-19 vaccines. “We intend to enforce contracts that have been validated by pharmaceutical companies and we do understand that there is transparency as well, using all the legal means at our disposal.”

And Charles Michel continued: “We understand very well, when there are sectors, companies which must set up production chains, that there may be obstacles. At a given moment there may be difficulties in ‘supply of raw materials,’ he added. “But what we ask of these companies is transparent dialogue.”

Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, also recalled Sunday that, “if by chance the vaccines were not at the rendezvous, we would take the legal means to ensure that the contracts are respected”.

“Huge damage”

According to a source, the AstraZeneca laboratory, whose vaccine is eagerly awaited by the authorities because it is inexpensive and easily transportable, would probably reduce its deliveries to the European Union by around 60% in the first quarter.

Italian Council President Giuseppe Conte said on Saturday the delays were serious breaches of contractual agreements and that Rome would take countermeasures. In a Facebook post, he said the delays were causing “enormous damage” to Italy and other countries. “It is unacceptable,” he added.

Charles Michel specified that faced with the first announcements of Pfizer which evoked delays of several weeks, the European Union had “reacted firmly” and “banged the fist on the table”, which had made it possible to limit the slowdowns.

With Reuters

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