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EU's Von Der Leyen says Astrazeneca will deliver 9 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses

EU Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen said on Sunday Astrazeneca Plc will deliver 9 million additional COVID-19 vaccine doses in the first quarter, making a total of 40 million doses to Europe.

EU's Von Der Leyen says Astrazeneca will deliver 9 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses

FILE PHOTO: European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen addresses European lawmakers during the presentation of the programme of activities of the Portuguese Presidency on a plenary session at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, January 20, 2021. Francisco Seco/Pool via REUTERS

BERLIN: AstraZeneca will deliver 30 per cent more coronavirus vaccine doses to the EU than it pledged last week, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said Sunday (Jan 31).

The company will send 9 million additional doses and "will start deliveries one week earlier than scheduled", Von der Leyen said in a tweet after days of tensions over production delays.

An EU source said that the first deliveries would start in the second week of February.

AstraZeneca would also extend its production capacity in Europe, Von der Leyen added.

The EU leader sent the tweet after talks Sunday with the leaders of the drugs companies that have signed vaccine contracts the EU.

She told Germany's ZDF broadcaster the new doses represented an increase of 30 per cent on the previous order.

The aim was still to vaccinate 70 per cent of adults in the EU by the end of summer, she added.

READ: EU approves AstraZeneca COVID-19 jab as WHO warns against 'vaccine nationalism'

READ: Macron: AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine 'quasi-ineffective' for over-65s

The EU has come under increasing pressure in recent days as it was forced to revise its original vaccination targets in the face of supply problems.

On Jan 19, it said it aimed to vaccinate 80 per cent of health professionals and people aged over 80 by March.

But AstraZeneca, whose vaccine was authorised for use in the EU on Friday, announced a three-quarters cut in the deliveries it had promised to the EU in the first quarter. It blamed production problems at one of its European sites.

Brussels refused to accept that explanation, demanding an inspection of the Belgian industrial site concerned, which is managed by a sub-contractor.

Germany's government on Sunday threatened any laboratory that failed to respect their obligations with legal action.

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Source: AGENCIES/nh

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