The European Union yesterday criticized pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca accusing it of its failure to assure delivery of COVID-19 without a valid explanation.
By Olive Marie
EU also threatened to implement strict export regulations within days on coronavirus vaccines made in the alliance.
Stella Kyriakides, Health Commissioner, said the EU, already faced with heavy criticism for a slow rollout of vaccines in its 27 countries, is taking any action needed “to protect its citizens and its rights.”
According to an AP News report, the EU, with 450 million citizens, not to mention economic and political power clout of the biggest trading coalition of the world, is “lagging badly behind” like other nations, including Israel and Britain, in its rolling out of COVID-19 vaccine shots for the country’s health care workers and the most vulnerable individuals.
That’s amidst having more than 400,000 confirmed deaths from the virus since the onset of this pandemic.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine was administered at a handful hospitals today before being rolled out to hundreds of GP-led sites across the United Kingdom this week.
COVID-19 Vaccines of AstraZeneca
Information posted on VerywellHealth indicates AstraZeneca, in partnership with Oxford University, has been working on an “adenovirus-based vaccine identified as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AZD1222).”
The said vaccine is said to be a viral vector vaccine using a modified adenovirus, the virus that’s causing the common cold, that has genetic material from the SARS-CoV-2 infection. More so, this particular vaccine was quickly developed as this vaccine technology has existed for decades already.
Meanwhile, Oxford had been examining adenovirus-based vaccines for several other diseases, including the Zika virus when COVID-19 occurred.
Scientists modified a weakened chimpanzee adenovirus to develop the COVID-19 vaccine, and a Phase 1 trial started in April 2020, with over 1,000 vaccinations administered in the United Kingdom.
The Astra-Zeneca-Oxford’s initial clinical test focused on people aged 18 to 55 years old. Meanwhile, new trails with those older than 55 years started in August 2020.
In addition, there had been trials that involved children, although the group was removed from the trial data in the middle of December. Based on this health news site’s January 21 report, AstraZeneca and Oxford have not given any statements yet, on the change mentioned.
Urgent Talks to Ramp Up Vaccine Production
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had urgent talks with Pascal Soriot, chief of AstraZeneca, and EU countries also met with the company to encourage the pharmaceutical firm to ramp up its vaccine production “and meet its contractual targets.”
The EU has sworn to purchase around 300 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine with choice on 100 million additional shots. Last week, the firm said it was planning to cut down its initial contingent of 80 million to 31 million.
The European Medicines Agency is scheduled for Friday to assess the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine along with the anticipation of its approval.
This vaccine is already being used in Britain and has been authorized for emergency used by other countries such as Pakistan, Mexico, India, and Argentina.
Increased Pressure on the EU
The announcement of AstraZeneca early on that it is delivering fewer vaccines to the EU has only added pressure on the bloc, significantly since Pfizer-BioNTech, the first COVID-19 vaccine to gain approval from the coalition, failed last week to fulfill its promised deliveries to the EU.
Pfizer has a temporary reduction of its vaccine deliveries to the EU and Canada. It has also revamped its Belgium plant to increase its overall production of vaccines.
Officials said such delays would make it difficult to meet their early targets in the goal of the EU to vaccinate about 70 percent of its adult population by late summer.
Meanwhile, the EU has signed six vaccine contracts for over two billion doses, although only Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have gained approval for use so far.
Originally published at The science times