Brussels has authorized the export of Covid-19 vaccines manufactured in the EU to 24 countries

AstraZeneca remains to disclose whether it diverted doses to the UK that it had contractually promised to member states.

President Ursula von der Leyen, during an appearance in the European Parliament

The announced vaccine war has not taken place, at least not yet. The implementation by the Commission of Ursula von der Leyen A mechanism that allows prohibiting the export of punctures against Covid-19 produced in the European Union triggered a bitter controversy. The measure was censored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and by the pharmaceutical industry itself for putting the world’s health supply at risk and promoting protectionism and nationalism.

EU trade partners as important as Japan, Canada or the United Kingdom contacted the Community Executive to express their concern: they feared they would run out of vaccines that they have bought but that are manufactured in Europe. Von der Leyen even considered establishing controls between Ireland and Northern Ireland, which violated their commitment to preserve peace on the island by avoiding a border at all costs. An earthquake for which he has apologized, but which continues to generate aftershocks in the Brexit.

After the first 15 days from the entry into force of this control mechanism, Brussels has yet to veto any application to export vaccines outside the EU, as confirmed to EL ESPAÑOL community sources. The Community Executive had already announced that it would only block shipments from laboratories that do not comply with their contract with the EU. A situation that, for the moment and from what it seems, has not occurred.

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine production plant in Maburg (Germany)

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine production plant in Maburg (Germany)

In the period between January 30 and February 15, 2021, the Commission has given the green light to a total of 50 applications from pharmaceutical companies to export to non-EU countries vaccines against Covid-19 manufactured in the territory of the Union, according to the sources consulted.

What is most striking is the large number of countries in the world that depend on antigens produced in EU plants. Exports have gone to 24 countries: Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Oman, Panama, Peru, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States.

The AstraZeneca case

Data on affected laboratories and the number of doses are confidential. The only thing that is clear is that AstraZeneca has not yet submitted any application to export vaccines from its plants in the EU, according to Von der Leyen herself. In fact, this control mechanism was put in place in response to the flagrant breach of contract by the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company: instead of the 100 million doses promised for the first quarter of the year, it will only deliver 40 million to European countries.

AstraZeneca it has always maintained that the problem is in the poor performance of its plant in Belgium. But Brussels suspects that the laboratory diverted EU-made doses to the UK and promised by contract to Member States. The export control mechanism will make it possible to verify who is right: any company that requests an authorization must report all its shipments since last October 29. Failure to do so is grounds for denial of license.

AstraZeneca has not sent us any vaccine export request at the moment. Consequently, the company has not yet had to disclose its production and delivery history for the past three months. We’ll see you when you apply. Until then, everything produced in Europe has to stay here, with the exception of the doses planned for Covax, the international aid system, “says Von der Leyen in an interview with the French newspaper. The echoes.

Will you take AstraZeneca to court for breach of contract? “We expect AstraZeneca to honor its commitments. That means delivering all of your orders, even if they take more time to get there. Our goal is not to have a legal conflict but to have the vaccines“, Responds the president of the Commission.

Outrage in the EU at AstraZeneca for delaying its vaccine

Outrage in the EU at AstraZeneca for delaying its vaccine

Although the vaccine shortage remains a serious problem in the EU, Von der Leyen rules out adding the Russian antigen Sputnik V to its portfolio. “There are two preconditions: they must submit an application, like the rest of the laboratories, to the European Medicines Agency (EMA). And for that, they must give full access to their data and their production plants ”, says the president.

“The production of vaccines carries risks and we have to make sure that it is really controlled. What’s more, I wonder how Russia can promise such a volume of doses (100 million for the European market) when the vaccination of their own population has not progressed satisfactorily, ”says Von der Leyen.

The president defends her centralized purchasing strategy arguing that more vaccines from other manufacturers will arrive in the coming weeks. The laboratory Janssen has requested authorization from the EMA on Tuesday for your antigen, it works with a single dose. If there are no problems, the green light will arrive in mid-March. Brussels has bought up to 400 million doses. Next on the list are Novavax and CureVac.