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REFILE-UPDATE 2-EU has not ordered AstraZeneca vaccines beyond June - Commissioner

Sun, 9th May 2021 13:27

(Amends media denominator)

PARIS, May 9 (Reuters) - The European Union has not made any
new orders for AstraZeneca vaccines beyond June when
their contract ends, European Internal Market Commissioner
Thierry Breton said on Sunday, after the EU signed a deal with
Pfizer-BioNTech.

Breton also said he expected the costs of the
Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to be higher than the earlier versions.

The Commission last month launched legal action against
AstraZeneca for not respecting its contract for the supply of
COVID-19 vaccines and for not having a "reliable" plan to ensure
timely deliveries.
"We did not renew the order after June. We’ll see what
happens," Breton told France Inter radio. He did not rule out a
potential renewal at a later stage.

Concerns have risen on potential side-effects of the
Anglo-Swedish COVID-19 vaccine.

Europe's medicines regulator said on Friday it is reviewing
reports of a rare nerve-degenerating disorder in people who
received the shots, a move that comes after it found the vaccine
may have caused very rare blood clotting cases.

While the regulator has maintained that the benefits of the
AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh any risks, several European
countries have limited use to older age groups or suspended use
altogether.

In answer to a question at the European Parliament in
Strasbourg, French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed the move
towards what he sees are more effective vaccines against new
variants of COVID-19, calling it "pragmatic".
"We are vaccinating with this vaccine (AstraZeneca) in France
and in Europe. We must continue to do this because it will help
us get out of the crisis." he said.

"But for future orders, in order to respond in particular to
variants, we see that other vaccines are now more effective, so
this signals a European pragmatism which I welcome."

The European Union signed a new contract with
Pfizer-BioNTech to receive 1.8 billion doses of COVID-19
vaccines for 2021-2023, to cover booster shots, donations and
reselling of doses, the European Commission said on Friday.

An increase in prices for second generation vaccines could
be justified by the extra research required and potential
changes to industrial equipment, Breton said.

"There may be a little extra cost but I will let the
competent authorities unveil it in due course," he told France
Inter radio.
(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide;
Editing by Toby Chopra, Andrew Cawthorne and Raissa Kasolowsky)

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