The European Commission is expected later on Friday to lay out the criteria under which such exports would be evaluated, with could impact supplies arriving in Britain.
New Covid-19 vaccine demonstrates ‘89% efficacy’, with UK having 60m orders
The bloc is scrambling to get supplies just as the West’s biggest drugmakers slow deliveries to the bloc due to production problems. As vaccination centres in Germany, France and Spain cancelled or delayed appointments, the EU publicly rebuked Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca for failing to deliver.
European Council President Charles Michel said in a letter to four EU leaders that the EU should explore all legal means to ensure supplies of vaccines it contracted to buy, if negotiations are unsuccessful.
“If no satisfactory solution can be found, I believe we should explore all options and make use of all legal means and enforcement measures at our disposal under the Treaties,” he said in the letter.
EU rules on monitoring and authorising exports of Covid vaccines in the 27-nation bloc could lead to exports being blocked if they violated existing contracts between the vaccine maker and the EU, an EU official said.
The global mass vaccination is stoking tensions across the world as big powers buy up doses in bulk and poorer nations try to collect whatever supplies are left.
Israel is by far the world leader on vaccine rollout per head of population, followed by the United Arab Emirates, the UK, Bahrain and the US. Behind them are Italy, Germany, France, China and Russia.
Both New York-based Pfizer and AstraZeneca, headquartered in Cambridge, England, have had production problems.
AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said the EU was late to strike a supply contract so the company did not have enough time to iron out production problems at a vaccine factory run by a partner in Belgium.
The European Commission has asked Belgian authorities to inspect production at the plant, Belgium’s Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products (FAGG) said on Thursday.