Western Morning News

EU demands access in Oxford vaccine row

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THE European Union has demanded access to AstraZenec­a vaccines manufactur­ed in UK plants as the bloc’s row with the pharmaceut­ical giant over a shortage of doses intensifie­d. EU health commission­er Stella Kyriakides told the firm on Wednesday it is contractua­lly obliged to send jabs produced in Oxford and Keele to EU member states.

AstraZenec­a chief executive Pascal Soriot argued supply chain “teething issues” were fixed in the UK ahead of the bloc because Britain signed a contract three months earlier. But Ms Kyriakides said: “We reject the logic of first come first served. That may work at the neighbourh­ood butcher’s but not in contracts.” She denied the bloc would impose an export ban on vaccines leaving the EU but said the contract signed with AstraZenec­a, which worked with Oxford University on its vaccine, contains two factories in the UK.

“There is no hierarchy of the factories. You are aware in the contracts there are four factories listed but it does not differenti­ate between the UK and Europe. The UK factories are part of our advance purchase agreements and that is why they have to deliver,” she added.

“We expect the doses that are in an advance purchase agreement to be delivered to the European Union.”

But Ms Kyriakides said: “Let me be absolutely clear, the European Union is not imposing an export ban on vaccines or restrictin­g the export of vaccines to third countries.”

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