EU Delivers More Than 100 Million Vaccines in First Quarter
(Bloomberg) -- The European Union will have delivered 107 million Covid vaccines by the end of this week, reaching the bloc’s targeted goal to ship 100 million doses in the first three months of the year.
The milestone was confirmed by European Commission spokesperson, Dana Spinant to reporters on Wednesday and reported earlier by Bloomberg News. It was a revised goal that had to take into account multiple delays in the deliveries from AstraZeneca Plc.
The drug maker, one of four suppliers authorized in the EU, had committed to providing 30 million doses by the end of this quarter, well below the originally planned 120 million shots. The other pharmaceutical companies have delivered on schedule.
A spokesman for Astra said on Tuesday that the company was on track to ship 30 million doses to the EU by the end of March.
The milestone is a rare vaccine win for the EU, which has been struggling to ramp up a sluggish inoculation campaign that lags behind western countries such as the U.K. and the U.S.
The bloc expects to receive 360 million doses in the second quarter and is aiming to vaccinate 70% of its adult population by the end of the summer. Meanwhile, several large EU countries have reimposed lockdown measures, with Italy and France likely to announce additional restrictions on Wednesday, in the face of an onslaught of new coronavirus cases on the continent.
The bloc has administered 15 doses per 100 people, less than a third of what the U.K. has managed, according to Bloomberg’s Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker.
The European vaccine campaign faced another setback after Germany said it would halt the use of Astra’s Covid-19 vaccine for people younger than 60 after a handful of new cases of severe blood clots emerged.
“These are findings that we cannot ignore,” Merkel told reporters late Tuesday, acknowledging that the latest development will increase public uncertainty. “We all know that vaccination is the most important tool against the coronavirus -- that we have different vaccines at our disposal is our good fortune,” she added.
Germany’s vaccine agency reported a rare brain blood clot in 31 people who had been given the Astra shot, nine of whom died. With the exception of two people, all of the cases were women between the ages of 20 and 63. Around 2.7 million people in Germany have so far received the Astra shot, data from the RKI public-health authority show.
The data from German health authorities suggest that there has been more than one case of the rare blood clot per 100,000 people vaccinated with Astra. That’s a higher ratio than would be expected in the wider population, according to analysis earlier this month by the agency that advises the German government on medicine safety.
The European Medicines Agency has alerted doctors to the latest blood-clot data, and amended the vaccine’s information notice. It said it can’t entirely rule out a link between vaccination and blood clots, including unusual cases in which patients have low levels of blood-clotting platelets.
Earlier this month, the EMA reviewed the blood-clot issue and concluded that the benefits of the Astra shot outweigh the risks. But it also recommended that a warning is added to make sure the public is better informed.
The move comes as European countries weigh lockdown measures in the face of rising new cases. France and Italy may announce new or extended restrictions later Wednesday to try to curb the coronavirus spread.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who speaks at 8 p.m. in Paris, may consider measures including a strict nationwide lockdown, closing schools and forced transfers of patients in intensive care to other regions, according to France Info Radio.
The rules in Italy could centralize decisions on school reopenings in Rome and make it compulsory for health workers to get the Covid vaccine, according to people familiar with the plans.
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