EU Likely to Drop AstraZeneca, J&J as Future Vaccine Options

The European Union “most probably” won’t renew contracts for Covid-19 vaccines with AstraZeneca Plc and Johnson & Johnson as it prioritizes other types of shots, according to a French government minister.

The comments follow the European Commission’s announcement this week that it’s in talks with Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech for as many as 1.8 billion additional vaccine doses through 2023.

EU Likely to Drop AstraZeneca, J&J as Future Vaccine Options

Pfizer’s shot is an mRNA vaccine, and the commission has said it will focus on that technology in its planning. The vaccines from both J&J and Astra use an adenovirus to build immunity.

“The decision has not been taken as of today, but I can tell you we haven’t initiated discussions with AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson about another contract, whereas we have already started discussions about contracts with BioNTech, Pfizer and Moderna,” Agnes Pannier-Runacher, France’s industry minister, said Friday on BFM Television.

On Wednesday, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU would focus on technologies that have “proven their worth,” such as mRNA shots, comments that were echoed by EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides in a Bloomberg Television interview.

“We need to be prepared,” Kyriakides said. “And so we will be looking at these kinds of technologies.”

Pfizer is also accelerating deliveries of vaccines to the bloc this quarter. Von der Leyen said the company is a “reliable partner” and has “delivered on its commitments.” That’s in contrast to the difficulties between the EU and Astra after the company slashed delivery targets. The J&J shot has been put on hold in the EU as health authorities examine a possible link between rare blood clots and the vaccine. The use of the Astra shot has been limited in many countries in the bloc for similar concerns.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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