A delay in the rollout of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine will result in a significant shortfall of doses for EU member states.
The first deliveries of the vaccine will be “lower than initially anticipated” due to a reduced yield at the pharmaceutical company’s manufacturing site, AstraZeneca warned.
“We will be supplying tens of millions of doses in February and March to the European Union, as we continue to ramp up production volumes,” a spokesperson said.
The EU was expecting 100 million doses of the vaccine to be delivered in the first quarter of 2021, pending regulatory approval which could come as early as Monday.
Malta was expected to receive its largest consignment to date from AstraZeneca, a total of one million vaccines, helping speed up the country’s inoculation programme.
However, according to several European officials, the EU-procured amount could be less than 40 million following the announcement of delays.
“The EU Commission and Member States expressed deep dissatisfaction with this. We insisted on a precise delivery schedule on the basis of which Member States should be planning their vaccination programs,” said EU Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides.
.@EU_Commission and Member States expressed deep dissatisfaction with this. We insisted on a precise delivery schedule on the basis of which Member States should be planning their vaccination programs, subject to the granting of a contitional marketing authorisation. /2
— Stella Kyriakides (@SKyriakidesEU) January 22, 2021
AstraZeneca is not the only pharmaceutical company to come across manufacturing issues. Pfizer and BioNTech also said its supplies have been reduced while it upgrades its production facilities.
It is unclear how this will impact Malta’s inoculation campaign. As it stands, with both Pfzier and Moderna, Malta is expected to achieve herd immunity by the end of summer.
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