EU drags feet AGAIN over new Novavax vaccine deal – but UK signed 60m contract in August

Novavax COVID-19 vaccine discussed by disease expert

The EU has been immersed in chaos this week, as the bloc faces a severe shortage in its vaccine supply. Brussels has been heavily criticised for its slow rollout of the jab and now it has emerged the EU is yet to sign a contract with vaccine maker Novavax, the latest pharmaceutical firm to create an effective Covid jab.

Yesterday American company Novavax published positive data from its UK-based study of its coronavirus vaccine, showing it was 89.3 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 in trail participants.

But European ministers have only completed “exploratory” talks to buy doses of the Novavax vaccine in December last year, with the final details yet to be worked out.

Meanwhile the UK secured 60 million doses of the jab in August, more than five months ago.

The new Novavax vaccine will be made in Stockton-on-Tees in north east England.

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The jab will now be evaluated by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRC) to decide whether it will be approved for use.

The agency has already approved three vaccines for emergency use, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna.

The EU has authorised use of the Pfizer and Moderna jab, and is set to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine later today.

The bloc currently faces a severe shortage in its vaccine supply.

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Several member states, including France and Spain, have had to cancel hundreds of first dose injections because of the lack of jabs.

The bloc is also embraced in a bitter row with vaccine maker AstraZeneca, after the firm announced it would be unable to fulfil demand to the EU due to unexplained “reduced yields” in its European supply chain.

Brussels has reacted furiously to the news, threatening legal action against the firm and to ban vaccine exports to any country outside the bloc.

Part of the reason for the delay with AstraZeneca is because the EU signed a deal with the firm much later than other countries.

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The UK secured a contract with the firm last May, but the European Commission didn’t sign a deal until the end of August.

As a result, the firm had less time to iron out manufacturing and supply problems relating to the contract.

But the EU continues to call on AstraZeneca to honour its vaccine commitments.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said today that the firm has offered “no plausible reasons” for production problems.

She told Deutschlandfunk radio: “There are binding orders and the contract is crystal clear.”

The EU chief said the contract set out delivery amounts for December and the first three quarters of 2021, and also mentioned four production sites, two of which are in Britain.

European Council President Charles Michel insisted the bloc should explore legal options to ensure it can secure much-needed doses of coronavirus vaccines.

In a letter to four EU leaders last night, the top eurocrat wrote: “I support all efforts to resolve the matter with companies through dialogue and negotiation. However, if no satisfactory solution can be found, I believe we should explore all options and make use of all legal means and enforcement measures at our disposal under the Treaties.”

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