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European Union turns to US for Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID vaccine

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LaToya Harding
·Contributor
·2-min read
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A healthcare worker draws a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the Clinique de l'Estree - ELSAN private hospital in Stains as part of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination campaign in France, March 5, 2021. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
The European Commission plans to raise the matter in forthcoming transatlantic discussions targeted at boosting collaboration on the fight against COVID-19, EU officials said. Photo: Reuters/Benoit Tessier

The European Union is set to urge the United States to export doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca (AZN.L) vaccine to the continent as its rollout programme continues to falter.

According to the Financial Times, the EU is aiming to bridge supply shortfalls and is turning to Washington for help to ensure the free flow of shipments of key ingredients needed in European production.

“We trust that we can work together with the US to ensure that vaccines produced or bottled in the US for the fulfilment of vaccine producers’ contractual obligations with the EU will be fully honoured,” the European Commission said.

The European Commission plans to raise the matter in forthcoming transatlantic discussions targeted at boosting collaboration on the fight against COVID-19, EU officials told the newspaper.

The EU’s vaccine rollout programme is currently lagging behind the UK and the US.

More than 21 million people in the UK have now been vaccinated (with a first dose) so far, with the official estimate of the R number in Britain — how many people each infected person then reinfects — falling between 0.6 and 0.9. New infections are also decreasing by 2% to 6% per day.

On Friday, a further 5,947 people in the UK tested positive, with 236 deaths within 28 days of a positive test reported.

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Britain was the first European nation to pass the 100,000 COVID-19 deaths landmark and the fifth country in the world after the US, Brazil, India and Mexico.

However, it is currently leading the vaccination race in Europe, after becoming the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer (PFE) jab.

The news comes after reports earlier this week that Italy and the commission had blocked a shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines to Australia, stoking global tensions and fears of vaccine hoarding.

AstraZeneca is currently battling to meet first-quarter EU delivery targets of 40 million doses by the end of March, which has already been cut down from an original 100 million due to production problems in the bloc.

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