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France: “Highly Probable” EU Will Not Renew Contract for AstraZeneca Vaccine

France: “Highly Probable” EU Will Not Renew Contract for AstraZeneca Vaccine
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By Staff, Agencies

The European Union will likely not renew its contracts for COVID-19 vaccines with the pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca, French Minister of Industry Agnes Pannier-Runacher said on Friday.

"The decision is not clear" but, after Denmark said on Wednesday it would discontinue its use of the treatment, it is "highly probable" that Europe will not place new orders with the drug-maker, the minister said on the radio RMC.

"We have not started discussions with Johnson & Johnson and with AstraZeneca for a new contract, where we have already started discussions with Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna," she noted.

"We have a vaccine portfolio with messenger RNA that works very well and has few side effects, we are going to have new vaccines, hopefully, Novavax, Sanofi, which are recombinant proteins that have very good results and we have 50 years of hindsight on this type of technology,” she explained.

"These vaccines will arrive in the second half of the year, so we will see a lot of doses on different platforms to meet all the needs," she added.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, argued this week that Pfizer-BioNTech had "proved to be a reliable partner, which has honored its commitments and is reactive to our needs", contrary to the problems of delivery of AstraZeneca, developed with the University of Oxford.

Denmark this week banned the use of AstraZeneca jabs over blood clot concerns, just as the EU said it was expecting 50 million Pfizer vaccine doses earlier than expected.

Denmark said Wednesday it would stop using the AstraZeneca vaccine altogether – a European first – despite assurances from the EMA and the World Health Organization that the benefits far outweigh possible risks.

The J&J and AstraZeneca setbacks are dampening hopes that mass immunizations will allow a swift exit from a pandemic that has killed close to three million people and ravaged the global economy.

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