Another company that manufactures the anti-Coronavirus vaccine has warned of the possibility of facing problems in supplies, which may lead to the dissipation of the European Union’s efforts to distribute the doses to immunize its citizens.
The pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said that the production problem may mean that initial quantities of vaccines may be less than expected.
The European Commission said it is currently working on obtaining more information on these problems.
This problem surfaced after the vaccination process stopped in some parts of Europe due to the suspension of delivery of shipments of the Coronavirus vaccine produced by Pfizer – Biontech.
AstraZeneca, which developed its vaccine in cooperation with the University of Oxford, mentioned that problem in a statement in this regard, but gave few details.
The statement said: “The initial quantities of vaccines will be less than initially expected due to the decline in output at the manufacturing site in our supply chain in Europe.”
Reuters quoted an official source in the European Union, whose name was not mentioned, that the company informed the European Commission that it would reduce shipments that were due to be delivered by 31 doses, or 60 percent of the amount that the company was scheduled to deliver to the European Union countries in the quarter. The first of 2021.
In contrast to the two anti-epidemic vaccines produced by Pfizer – Biontec and Moderna, the AstraZeneca vaccine is still not approved by the health authorities in the European Union, amid expectations that this approval will be completed by the end of this month.
The company signed a deal with the European Union to provide at least 300 million doses to the largest political and economic bloc in the world.
And Austrian media said that AstraZeneca will be able to provide 600 thousand doses of the vaccine out of the 2 million doses promised by Vienna by the agreed date at the end of next March and postpone delivery of the rest, 1.4 million doses, to next April.
The delay is “totally unacceptable,” said Rudolf Anschober, Austrian health minister.
Legal action concerns
So far, Pfizer of the US has said it will reduce shipments in the next few weeks as it works to increase production capacity for its Belgium plant. The European Union has requested Pfizer 600 million doses of the Coronavirus vaccine.
The reduction in vaccine shipments from Pfizer caused the suspension of immunization operations in the densely populated state of North Rhine-Westphalia and other states in Germany, in addition to the suspension of immunization of medical teams in the Spanish capital, Madrid.
Italy and Poland threatened to take legal action over reducing vaccine quantities.
This comes amid an increase in the number of cases and deaths in European countries. In Germany, for example, the number of deaths due to the epidemic exceeded 50 thousand deaths, while Spain recorded a record in terms of the rate of infection spread in the past few weeks.
The government of Hungary expressed its dissatisfaction over the delay in adopting the anti-corona virus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca, while confirming that it had reached an agreement with Russia to obtain large quantities of the “Sputnik V” vaccine despite not being approved by the official health authorities in the European Union.
How delaying vaccinations hurts Europe
Pfizer told Italy that it will suffer a shortage of Pfizer – Biontec anti-epidemic vaccines by 20 percent next week, and this European country was exposed to a shortage of vaccines from the American company by 29 percent last week, amid a study of Rome taking legal measures against the company. The deficit in anti-vaccines in some regions of Italy has also reached 60 percent.
And in Germany, where Biontech operates, many states are struggling to obtain shipments of the vaccine. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia stopped dosing last Tuesday and also stopped administering the first dose of the vaccine in nursing homes. The distribution of the second dose of the vaccine is still continuing, but the special centers for immunization of age groups over 80 years old did not open their doors to citizens until next month.
The authorities in the Spanish capital, Madrid, stopped distributing vaccines to medical personnel this week, confirming that they had received half of the vaccine quantities that were to be received. In Spain, the government has also begun legalizing the distribution of anti-virus vaccines so that the delivery of shipments from Pfizer will improve. This comes after the number of daily cases in Spain recorded a record 44,357 cases last Thursday.
Romania warned that its vaccine stocks could drop to almost zero at the end of the first week of February. The Czech Republic said that reducing the quantities of vaccines imported to it caused “big problems”.
Poland began distributing vaccine doses to medical staff, in addition to starting to vaccinate inmates in nursing homes, but this week it witnessed a 50% decrease in shipments of vaccines that it receives. And ministers in the Czech government said that the vaccine stocks in the country could run out in the middle of next month. And Warsaw warned of the possibility of studying the possibility of taking legal measures against Pfizer if the quantities it received to the Czechs from its epidemic vaccine did not improve.
France requests a negative result for entry of travelers
Last Thursday, European Union leaders agreed that borders between the countries of the European region would continue to open, but they warned of the potential for an urgent need to ban unnecessary travel to limit the spread of the virus.
In France, the authorities imposed more stringent restrictions on arrivals from European countries, starting from Friday, which include submitting a negative result for the analysis of the BCR swab test, which did not pass more than three days from the date of travel. French Health Minister Olivier Veron appealed to the French to stop using home-made masks, as health officials recommend that they wear medical masks instead.
Belgium is expected to impose a ban on non-essential travel in late January until the first of March, with the exception of residents in the border regions who are allowed in and out for the purpose of shopping. The government also requires anyone who traveled on a necessary trip that lasted more than 48 hours to self-isolate and undergo two tests to detect the epidemic.
Meanwhile, Denmark suspended flights coming from the UAE for five days, suggesting that the virus detection tests conducted before flight departures in the UAE “cannot be relied on their results.” Denmark requires travelers to enter the country to undergo epidemic detection tests only 24 hours before the flight.
The number of Corona virus deaths in Germany jumped to 50 thousand Friday, but the number of new cases decreased last week. The chief virologist in Germany, Christian Drosten, warned that the increase in the number of people receiving anti-epidemic vaccines will lead to increased public pressure on the authorities in the direction of easing the restrictions imposed to limit the spread of the epidemic.
Dorsten told the German newspaper Der Spiegel: “In this case, we will not talk about 20 or 30 thousand cases per day, but according to the worst-case scenarios, we will see the transmission of infection to at least 100 thousand cases.”