Matt Hancock discusses possible coronavirus vaccine passports
Leaders are facing mass criticism from across the bloc over the delay of deliveries of the AstraZeneca jab, which has yet to be approved by the EU. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has come under growing pressure to resolve the issue, as millions of EU citizens remain under strict lockdowns.
The Telegraph’s Brussels correspondent, James Crisp, said the Commission had ignored his question on whether Ms von der Leyen would be willing to resign over the uproar.
He said he had “asked EU Commission if buck stopped with von der Leyen” and “if she was willing to take responsibility (i.e. quit) if things kept going wrong”.
A spokesperson for the Commission claimed “things have been going very well” and ignored the question on a potential resignation.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine is expected to be approved for use in the EU by Friday.
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The first deliveries were expected to arrive from mid-February.
However, the timescale has been thrown up in the air after the drug giant told the EU that it could not meet the agreed supply targets running up to the end of March.
An EU official said that meant a 60 percent cut to the 31 million doses it had ordered.
On Monday EU officials will meet with bosses at AstraZeneca to discuss the critical issue.
Brussels chiefs will press for answers on why the drug maker unexpectedly announced a large cut in supplies of its COVID-19 vaccine to the bloc.
A spokesman for the Commission said: “We expect the company to find solutions and to exploit all possible flexibilities to deliver swiftly.”
He added that Ms von der Leyen had a call earlier on Monday with AstraZeneca’s chief Pascal Soriot to remind him of the firm’s commitments.
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A second senior EU official said the bloc had a contractual right to check the company’s books to assess production and deliveries.
AstraZeneca developed its shot with Oxford University.
The jab was approved for use in the UK on December 30.
The 27-member club of nations had given the Anglo-Swedish firm an up-front payment of €336 million (£298m) as part of the deal.
The deal signed in August for at least 300 million doses was the first signed by the EU to secure COVID-19 shots.
EU Council President Charles Michel admitted it would be “difficult” for the bloc to reach its goal of vaccinating seven in 10 adults by the summer.
During an interview with Europe1 radio on Sunday, he said: “There are difficulties in the production lines in the coming weeks and that will make the process more complex.
“But if we manage to mobilise the production lines, we may be able to succeed.
“It’s going to be difficult.”
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