US reportedly tells Europe to not expect AstraZeneca COVID vaccine any time soon



European Union sources say the United States will not be sending AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines manufactured on its shores to the EU in the near future.

The US message could complicate vaccination plans in the 27-nation EU, which has been grappling since January with delays in deliveries from vaccine makers.

AstraZeneca told the EU earlier this year it would cut its supplies in the second quarter by at least half to less than 90 million doses, EU sources said, after a bigger reduction in the first three months of the year.

AstraZeneca later offered to partly plug the gap with vaccines produced outside Europe, including in the United States.

However, sources have said the US has told Europe it should not expect any shipments of the vaccine any time soon.

“The US told us there was no way it would ship AstraZeneca vaccines to the EU,” said a senior official directly involved in EU-US talks said.

A senior EU diplomat said the European Commission told diplomats at a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday that the bloc should not expect any exports from the United States “at this point in time”.

“Basically, the situation is such that any exports are tricky, but there is a willingness to talk,” the diplomat said.

AstraZeneca declined to comment.

It is not known what is behind the possible move on exports.

European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer said the bloc still wanted to work with the US.

“Whatever the legal situation in the United States, we want to work on the ground with the United States to keep the supply chains open,” he said,

“We’re not going to give a blow-by-blow account of the discussions that are taking place with our American partners.”

But the EU’s executive did not reply to specific questions about a possible move on exports from the United States.

The US stance could jeopardise AstraZeneca’s attempts to bring deliveries closer to its contractual obligation with the EU of 180 million doses in the second quarter.

US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday the government would first give Americans COVID-19 vaccines, but any surplus would be shared with the world.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the US government had been clear publicly and privately that it would focus first on ensuring Americans were vaccinated, but said direct purchases would be up to countries and companies.

“Our first focus is in ensuring the American people are vaccinated,” she said.

“Of course, any country can purchase vaccines from these manufacturers directly.”

The move comes after several European nations stopped the use of AstraZeneca batches following reports of people dying from blood clots after receiving the jab.

However, Europe’s medicine regulator EMA said there was no reason to suspend administering the vaccine.

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