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EU doesn't renew order for AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine

A health worker prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine at a temporary vaccine centre set up at City Hall in Hull, northeast England on May 7, 2021. / AFP / Oli SCARFF

The European Union has not placed any new orders for AstraZeneca vaccines after the bloc accused the pharmaceutical company last month of failing to deliver on its initial contract.

"We did not renew the order after June. We’ll see what happens," European Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton told France Inter radio on Sunday.

Breton, however, reassured that the EU was not closing the door to the firm. "We will have other orders," he said.

Last month, the Commission launched legal action against AstraZeneca, arguing the company did not respect its contract for the supply of vaccines and did not have a “reliable” plan to ensure timely deliveries.

The British-Swedish multinational company had twice said it would not be delivering the amount of vaccines to the bloc that it was counting on.

European Union Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said on Twitter last month that “our priority is to ensure #COVID19 vaccine deliveries take place to protect the health of”.

AstraZeneca at the time rejected the allegation, asserting the company was “about to deliver almost 50m doses to European countries by the end of April, in line with our forecast.”

Meanwhile, several EU countries previously paused administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine, following reports of a potential link to rare blood clots.

Last month, the UK's top drug regulator recommended that the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine to people older than 30 should be limited.

There have also been reports of a rare nerve-degenerating disorder in people who received AstraZeneca shots.

Vaxzevria, the safety committee of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), said Friday it was analyzing data provided by AstraZeneca on cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS).

Meanwhile, the European Commissioner announced Friday it had signed a deal to receive 1.8 billion doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.

Breton said Sunday the costs of the recent order for more Pfizer-BioNTech doses might be higher than the earlier deals due to the extra research required and possible changes to industrial equipment.

"There may be a little extra cost but I will let the competent authorities unveil it in due course," he said.

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