The expected shortfall comes after a massive reduction in supplies in the first three months of the year and could hit the EU’s ability to meet its target of vaccinating 70 percent of adults by the summer. An EU official who is directly involved in talks with the Anglo-Swedish drug giant said the company had told the bloc during internal meetings that it “would deliver less than 90 million doses in the second quarter”.
AstraZeneca’s contract with the EU, which was leaked last week, showed the company had committed to delivering 180 million doses to the 27-nation bloc in the second quarter.
But a company spokesman said: “Because we are working incredibly hard to increase the productivity of our EU supply chain, and doing everything possible to make use of our global supply chain, we are hopeful that we will be able to bring our deliveries closer in line with the advance purchase agreement.
“We are continuously revising our delivery schedule and informing the European Commission on a weekly basis of our plans to bring more vaccines to Europe.”
A spokesman for the European Commission, which coordinates talks with vaccine manufacturers, said it could not comment on the discussions as they were confidential.
But he said the EU should have more than enough shots to hit its vaccination targets if the expected and agreed deliveries from other suppliers are met, regardless of the situation with AstraZeneca.
The EU official confirmed that AstraZeneca planned to deliver about 40 million doses in the first quarter, again less than half the 90 million shots it was supposed to supply.
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AstraZeneca warned the EU in January that it would fall short of its first-quarter commitments due to production issues.
It was also due to deliver 30 million doses in the last quarter of 2020 but did not supply any shots last year – with its vaccine not approved by the EU at that point.
All told, AstraZeneca’s total supply to the EU could be about 130 million doses by the end of June, well below the 300 million it committed to deliver to the bloc by then.
Under the EU contract leaked last week, AstraZeneca committed to producing vaccines for the bloc at two plants in Britain, one in Belgium and one in the Netherlands.
But the company is not exporting vaccines made in the UK in line with its separate contract with the British government.
AstraZeneca also has vaccine plants in other sites around the world and it has told the EU it could provide more doses from its global supply chain, including from India and the US.
Earlier this month, the company said it expected to make more than 200 million doses per month globally by April, double February’s level, as it works to expand global capacity and productivity.