AstraZeneca has become a stone in the shoe of the European Commission and the Member States. In the case of the first, for the alleged “breaches” of contract. For the latter, because of the mess that has been caused around their vaccination with her.
After a few days of many unknowns, the 27 are already beginning to resume their inoculation after the EMA explained that it is a “safe and effective” vaccine and found no link between the drug and the cases of thrombi that have occurred in some patients . Italy or France, for example, have already vaccinated again, and Spain will do so on Wednesday. But the AstraZeneca case has two sides: health and politics.
Vaccines have also become a geopolitical stressor. The European Commissioner for the Internal Market, the Frenchman Thierry Breton, has commented that the immunity of 70% can be achieved “on July 14” if vaccination is duly accelerated and, in addition, considers that the Russian vaccine Sputnik V will not be necessary in the European Union.
Moscow’s response has not been long in coming and the Kremlin assures that it is a “contempt”, while they have charged against the European strategy and warn that the drug has “more efficacy” than the vaccines applied by the EU .
“The measures that the EU said it would adopt regarding export restrictions were aimed at making pharmaceutical companies comply with their obligations .” This is a notice made this Monday by the Spanish Foreign Minister, Arancha González Laya, after commenting that AstraZeneca fails to comply with the deliveries provided for in the contracts signed with the EU. It is estimated that in the first quarter it has delivered only a third of the agreed vaccines.
Given this, the European Union launched a mechanism to control vaccine exports, but only one operation has been blocked so far: the shipment of 250,000 doses from Italy to Australia . The rest of the requests have been authorized, according to the European Commission itself.
Even those destined for the United Kingdom have had the green light. “The EU has exported huge quantities of vaccines to the UK in recent months, more than 10 million,” Laya said.
This is where another of the Commission’s threats is born: if the non-compliance by AstraZeneca continues, the delivery of doses to British territory will be blocked. ” It is also a consequence of Brexit , it can be seen from that point of view,” say sources consulted for 20 minutes .
In total, the European Commission has signed around 2.8 billion doses of vaccines for the entire EU and the first single-dose Jansen vaccines are scheduled to start arriving next month. This is expected to speed up vaccination, which, for now, is still slow: only 3.8% of the European population has been immunized. The objective, however, is maintained and President Ursula von der Leyen insists that in summer 70% of citizens will be vaccinated.
On the other hand, the health issue appears. The fact that countries stopped vaccination with AstraZeneca appears to have undermined public confidence. In fact, a poll published this Monday by YouGov shows that the Oxford drug is considered “unsafe” by 52% of Spaniards , 61% of French, 55% of Germans and 43% of Italians .
Community sources assure that the stoppage was a “proving” maneuver, but that perhaps it should have been “better explained” and taken “by consensus and all at the same time.” Again, the problem is more “in the coordination of the decision” than in the measure itself.
In any case, the competence in this regard lies with the Member States, which may not even meet the demands of the EMA, which is an advisory body and whose decisions are not binding.
Amid controversy, a new clinical trial in the United States has shown that the AstraZeneca vaccine is 79% effective against symptomatic illnesses and 100% effective against serious illness and hospitalization. The message from the pharmaceutical company continues to be that it is making “the best efforts” to comply with those signed, but the anger in the European Commission increases at times.