AstraZeneca has pulled out of meeting with the European Union to discuss delayed vaccine commitments to the bloc, an EU official said.
The official, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the talks said the EU would “insist on them” coming back to the negotiating table to explain the delay in deliveries once the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine gets approved for use by the European Medicines Agency.
The talks on January 27 with the EU Commission and member states were slated to be the third in as many days, as an ever angrier EU is demanding an explanation about the delays.
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On January 25, the EU threatened to impose tight export controls within days on COVID-19 vaccines made in the bloc.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The EU, which has 450 million citizens and the economic and political clout of the world’s biggest trading bloc, is lagging badly behind countries like Israel and Britain in rolling out coronavirus vaccine shots for its health care workers and most vulnerable people.
That’s despite having over 400,000 confirmed virus deaths since the pandemic began.
The shortfall of planned deliveries of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is expected to get medical approval in the bloc on January 29, combined with hiccups in the distribution of Pfizer-BioNTech shots is putting EU nations under pressure.
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