Europe

EU likely to drop AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson as future Covid-19 vaccine options

PARIS (BLOOMBERG) – The European Union “most probably” will not renew contracts for Covid-19 vaccines with AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) as it prioritises other types of shots, according to a French government minister.

The comments follow the European Commission’s announcement this week that it is in talks with Pfizer and BioNTech for as many as 1.8 billion additional vaccine doses through 2023.

Pfizer’s shot is an mRNA vaccine, and the commission has said it will focus on that technology in its planning. The vaccines from both J&J and AstraZeneca use an adenovirus to build immunity.

“The decision has not been taken as at today, but I can tell you we haven’t initiated discussions with AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson about another contract, whereas we have already started discussions about contracts with BioNTech, Pfizer and Moderna,” French Industry Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said on Friday (April 16) on BFM Television.

On Wednesday, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the EU would focus on technologies that have “proven their worth”, such as mRNA shots, comments that were echoed by EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides in a Bloomberg Television interview.

“We need to be prepared,” Ms Kyriakides said. “And so we will be looking at these kinds of technologies.”

Pfizer is also accelerating deliveries of vaccines to the bloc this quarter.

Ms Von der Leyen said the company is a “reliable partner” and has “delivered on its commitments”.

That is in contrast to the difficulties between the EU and AstraZeneca after the company slashed delivery targets.

The J&J shot has been put on hold in the EU as the health authorities examine a possible link between rare blood clots and the vaccine.

The use of the AstraZeneca shot has been limited in many countries in the bloc for similar concerns.

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