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AstraZeneca expected to deliver all doses in second quarter despite reports of expected EU shortfall

Reuters quoted an EU official in reporting a possible shortfall today.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said that any reduction in the number of vaccines which AstraZeneca will deliver to the EU next quarter has been accounted for as part of the Government’s vaccination plan.

An EU official told Reuters today that the pharmaceutical company expects to deliver less than half of the vaccines it was contracted to supply during the second quarter of 2021.

The official, whom Reuters have said is “directly involved in talks” with the company, said AstraZeneca would deliver less than 90 million doses to the EU next quarter.

The new development follows a huge row between Europe and AstraZeneca last month, when the company announced it would deliver fewer vaccines than planned during the first quarter.

A contract between the company and the EU which was leaked last week committed to the delivery of 180 million doses between April and June.

Ireland receives about 1.1% of all vaccines allocated to the EU based on its population size, and would have originally expected almost 2 million doses from AstraZeneca. 

The shortfall would have meant the EU would receive around half of this instead, and that Ireland would get roughly 1 million doses of the company’s vaccine.

However, a spokesman for AstraZeneca said that the company still aimed to deliver 180 million doses to the EU in the second quarter in line with the terms of its contract.

“As per this contract, approximately half of the expected volume is due to come from the EU supply chain, while the remainder would come from its international supply network,” the spokesman said.

“At this stage AstraZeneca is working to increase productivity in its EU supply chain and to continue to make use of its global capability in order to achieve delivery of 180 million doses to the EU in the second quarter.”

Speaking to reporters this evening, Martin said any possible shortfall from AstraZeneca has been factored into the government’s vaccine rollout plan.

“I think we will have a sufficiency of vaccines,” the Taoiseach said.

“The big challenge for us in Q2 and Q3 will be the administration of the vaccines, because it will be unprecedented.”

Martin said other vaccines could “come on stream” before the end of the second quarter that the government had not factored in, which may make up for any shortfall.

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He referenced the vaccine being developed by German company CureVac, which could give Ireland “significant additional doses” if it is approved by the European Medicines Agency.

Last week, pharmaceutical firm Janssen also applied for conditional authorisation for its Covid-19 vaccine, which is being developed by US firm Johnson & Johnson.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly also sought to reassure the public about the latest development this evening.

“I’m glad to be able to assure everyone that there is no change to our forecast of 1 million Covid vaccine doses a month from April on for Ireland,” he tweeted.

“Shortfalls in AstraZeneca supply for Q2 were already factored in by our Vaccine Taskforce and our programme continues as planned.”

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