Brussels / Washington (dpa) – Supplementing corona vaccines for the European Union is slower than hoped. The manufacturer Astrazeneca is very late with its deliveries, the European Commission confirmed on Friday.
And according to federal health secretary Jens Spahn (CDU), the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine won’t arrive until mid or late April. According to information from EU circles, there are also doubts about US export policy. The White House emphasizes that there is no export ban. However, it is a priority to vaccinate the American population first.
The European Commission has ordered a total of at least 1.4 billion doses of the four corona vaccines approved in the EU. Still, vaccines are scarce and vaccination campaigns are slow. Health Minister Spahn said there was also uncertainty about the expected delivery quantities for April. “We don’t have all next month’s delivery dates from all manufacturers yet,” said the CDU politician.
The planning would have worked well at Biontech / Pfizer. About 40 million of the 60 million vaccine doses expected in the second quarter would come from there, which is reliable. At Astrazeneca and Moderna, however, plans are more volatile. Regarding Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, which was approved in the EU on Thursday, Spahn said of ARD, “The truth is, deliveries cannot be expected until mid-April at the earliest,” Johnson & Johnson said.
It was said from EU circles in Brussels that the American manufacturer had changed the supply chain based on its own information. The filling – the so-called fill and finish – should no longer take place in the US as planned, but in a different location, and the change would take some time. Because there is new uncertainty whether the US would allow the export of the bottles filled there, various sources in Brussels confirm.
Former US President Donald Trump issued an order in early December that from the point of view of EU politicians amounts to an export ban on corona vaccines because the US initially only wants to provide for its own needs. Charles Michel, president of the EU Council, recently criticized the US and Great Britain for imposing “a genuine ban on the export of vaccines or vaccine components.” Spahn also complained that “certain products have not left the US” in recent months.
The New York Times reported that millions of unused doses of Astrazeneca’s corona vaccine had accumulated in the United States, where the drug has not been approved. 30 million vaccine doses alone have been filled at a facility in the state of Ohio, and tens of millions of additional doses have been produced in a lab in Maryland, the paper wrote. The large supply sparked a discussion in Washington whether the vaccine should be given to other countries. So far, President Joe Biden’s government has rejected these requests.
The EU complains that Astrazeneca is not fulfilling its contractual delivery obligations. It is said by EU circles that the number of 40 million cans halved by the company is unlikely to be reached in the first quarter. When asked if Astrazeneca was very far from the mark, Commission spokesman Eric Mamer said: “The answer is yes.” For the second quarter, Astrazeneca had announced deliveries to the EU from factories outside the Community.
US government spokeswoman Jen Psaki stressed Thursday (local time): “There are no export bans.” All vaccine manufacturers in the US are free to export their products as long as they keep the promises made in contracts with the US government. The spokeswoman also reiterated that the US government’s priority was to vaccinate its own population first.