Although the contract with AstraZeneca is set to expire in June, the bloc isn't planning on placing any new orders, an official said. The remarks come after the EU launched legal proceedings over vaccine delivery delays.
The European Union has not yet placed any new orders for AstraZeneca vaccines beyond June when the current contract ends, European Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said on Sunday.
"We did not renew the order after June. We’ll see what happens," Breton told France Inter radio, adding that AstraZeneca is "a very good vaccine."
Breton reassured that the bloc was not closing the door to the British-Swedish firm. "We will have other orders," he said.
Two weeks ago, the EU said it launched legal action against AstraZeneca for reportedly failing to respect the terms of its contract with the bloc.
Breton said he expected the costs of the EU's recent major order for more BioNTech-Pfizer doses to be higher than the earlier deals.
The uptick in costs for second generation vaccines was due to the extra research required and possible changes to industrial equipment, Breton said.
"There may be a little extra cost but I will let the competent authorities unveil it in due course," he said.
The European Commission said on Friday that the bloc signed a new contract with German vaccine developer BioNTech and their US partner Pfizer to receive 1.8 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines for 2021-2023.
The EU said it hoped the deal would cover booster shots, donations and reselling of doses.
Breton's announcement comes just days after Europe's medicines regulator (EMA) said it was reviewing reports of a rare nerve-degenerating disorder in people who received shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The vaccine has been linked to rare blood clots that also appear with low levels of platelets (which help clots form) in the blood.
The UK's medicines safety regulator on Friday said most adults under the age of 40 will be given an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine due to the link with blood clots.
mvb/rs (dpa, Reuters, AP)