Covid Vaccine Firms “Must Deliver”, Says EU Chief Amid Row Over Supplies

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    European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen talks on Inauguration of the new President of the United States during a plenary session at the EU Parliament in Brussels on January 20, 2021. JOHN THYS / AFP

    Companies producing Covid-19 vaccines “must deliver”, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday as tensions mounted between her European Commission and pharmaceutical firms over delayed deliveries.

    “Europe invested billions to help develop the world’s first Covid-19 vaccines,” she said in a live video address to an online-only version of the annual World Economic Forum usually held in Davos, Switzerland.

    “And now, the companies must deliver. They must honour their obligations,” she said.

    The Commission is demanding answers of British-Swedish group AstraZeneca and US company Pfizer about delays both have announced to their deliveries to the European Union.

    In a sign of concern that pharmaceutical groups might be selling the earmarked doses to higher bidders outside the bloc, it is making a move to require the companies to notify authorities of any exports to outside the European Union.

    Von der Leyen underlined that initiative in her speech, saying “we will set up a vaccine export transparency mechanism” to “ensure” the firms meet their contractual obligations to the EU.

    The issue is sensitive for von der Leyen, who spearheaded efforts to have the Commission procure more than two billion doses of potential Covid-19 vaccines for the bloc’s 27 member states, home to 450 million people.

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