What is behind the dispute between Brussels and Astra Zeneca
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The EU accuses Astra Zeneca of failing to fulfill its obligations to deliver vaccines, the pharmaceutical company objects. What is the dispute about? Who else is Brussels negotiating with? And is there protection against mutant viruses? WELT answers the most important questions.
D.the dispute between the EU Commission and the British-Swedish vaccine manufacturer Astra Zeneca is becoming more acute. There are mutual accusations, accusations and threats in the hall.
Initially, Astra-Zeneca canceled the crisis meeting of both sides, scheduled for Wednesday evening, and then reaffirmed it. At the same time, representatives of the EU health authorities provided information on current issues. WELT answers the most important questions:
What is the dispute about?
Since August, the EU Commission has concluded a framework agreement with Astra Zeneca on up to 400 million doses of the vaccine. However, the group said it would deliver only about 31 million doses of the promised 80 million doses in the first quarter after the vaccine is expected to receive approval on Friday – a failure for Brusselsbecause then there would be delays in pan-European vaccinations. The reason for this was problems with production at a plant in Belgium.
The EU does not allow this, especially since the group still produces at three other plants. EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides again asked the British-Swedish company on Wednesday afternoon to deliver the agreed amount of the contracted vaccine to EU countries. “We are in a pandemic and we are losing people every day,” Kyriakides said. Vaccine manufacturers have a “moral, social and contractual responsibility”.
Astra Zeneca CEO Pascal Sario had previously said in an interview with WELT that his company had never committed to a fixed number of deliveries. It was only assured, “that we will do our best.”
A spokesman for the EU Commission responded that the paragraph “on maximum effort” only applies to the development stage. “If approval is given, it is necessary to deliver agreed quantities, including pre-made ones,” he said.
What are the EU numbers?
According to current data, the EU has an average of 453 cases of crown per 100,000 inhabitants (14-day illness). However, the differences are significant: in Finland, the disease is recorded with 61 cases, but there are also regions with 1144 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. There are currently ten deaths per 100,000 inhabitants across Europe.
Senior from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC): “The relatively low value in Finland is still three times higher than the European average in summer. We are still far from where we want to be. “
Will there be more vaccines soon?
European Medicines Agency (EMA) there is currently a discussion with 50 different manufacturers. In 23 running cases, she is already talking to vendors about data and specific research objectives (“scientific advice”). This shortlist also includes the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. However, it is still unclear how many products will eventually be approved. Johnson & Johnson and possibly also the German company Curevac should receive the following permits in the coming months.
Are vulnerable groups safe when vaccinated against a crown?
Unfortunately, this cannot be said with certainty. Due to the enormous time pressure in the development and approval of hitherto approved vaccines, neither pregnant women, nor chronically ill patients, nor cancer patients were included in the study. For children Specific data are also not yet available, although a “child investigation plan” is always drawn up later for all vaccines.
Do vaccines also help against mutants?
According to ECDC, to date, there are mainly three options: British, South African and Brazilian. According to authorities, it is “definitely” that the British version is “easier to convey”. But “there is absolutely no evidence” that these mutations lead to more serious clinical pictures.
In the case British mutation vaccines previously approved by Moderna and Biontech / Pfizer are likely to be effective according to current knowledge. “We don’t know for sure about the other two mutations yet. Efficiency can be reduced, ”says the ECDC expert.
The EMA said: “There is a risk that at some point we will find a mutant that is not sensitive to the vaccine.” However, vaccines are “platform technologies” where “different contents are packaged in one package”. Because you usually only need to change the content, not the principle of construction, in most cases it will be possible to respond relatively quickly to mutations in the crown. This is also the case with the flu virus, which changes annually.
Will the coronavirus ever be eradicated?
This cannot be expected. EU health experts stress that a “low threshold number of diseases” is likely to be recorded in the distant future as a certain “animal reservoir” will continue to exist. In the current pandemic situation, a broad effect of vaccination can be expected only in the second half of the year and by the end of the year.