EU Won’t Let Astra Export Covid Vaccines Until Pledge Met
The European Union will block exports of AstraZeneca Plc coronavirus vaccines if the company fails to deliver the doses bought by the region on time, according to the EU commissioner in charge of fixing the bloc’s vaccination drive.
“As long as AstraZeneca doesn’t make good on its obligations, everything that’s produced on European soil is distributed to Europeans,” Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal markets commissioner, said on RTL radio and LCI television Sunday. “If there are surpluses, they will go elsewhere.”
The EU, which has faced vaccine shortages while exporting doses, has been criticized for its much slower rollout than in the U.S. and the U.K., which have mostly refrained from exports.
The lag has forced governments across the continent to extend or tighten costly travel restrictions, lockdowns and sometimes closures of venues such as restaurants, museums and schools as they grapple with a third wave of infections in the pandemic that’s killed hundreds of thousands of people on the continent in the past year.
AstraZeneca has pledged to deliver 70 million doses to the EU in the second quarter, Breton said. So far, it met about 30% of its commitment to the EU versus 100% to the U.K., he said.
The EU has exported about 40% of the 180 million doses produced on its soil, including about 20 million doses to the U.K., according to Breton. If it can, the bloc will help Britain, which may struggle to get enough doses for those who need two jabs quick enough, he said.
The EU, which is ramping up capacities, will produce 420 million doses by mid-July, enough to reach herd immunity for its population, Breton said. He defined herd immunity as vaccinating about 70% of adults.
As inoculation progresses, EU member states will create a “health pass” from the middle of June to facilitate a rebound in leisure, tourism and business travel, the commissioner said.
People will be able to display their vaccination status and most recent Covid-test results with a certificate using a QR code, Breton said. It will be available on a voluntary basis and respect European data-protection rules, he said.
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