LONDON (Reuters), 28 Jan, 2021-Europe’s fight to secure COVID-19 vaccine supplies intensified on Thursday when the European Union said it would tighten oversight of exports after a row with AstraZeneca and Britain demanded that it receive all the shots it paid for.
The EU, whose member states are far behind Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States in rolling out vaccines, is scrambling to get supplies just as the West’s biggest drugmakers slow deliveries to the bloc due to production problems.
As vaccination centres in Germany and France cancelled or delayed appointments, the EU publicly rebuked Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca for failing to deliver and even asked if it could divert supplies from Britain.
The EU Commission, which has coordinated vaccine orders, said it would on Friday detail a mechanism to require both notification and authorisation of COVID-19 vaccine exports from the bloc. Britain, which has repeatedly touted its lead in the vaccine rollout race since leaving the EU’s orbit on Jan. 1, said its deliveries must be honoured.
Asked if the British government would prevent AstraZeneca diverting essential vaccine supplies from Britain to the EU, Gove said the crucial thing was that Britain received its orders as planned and on time.