EU refuses to renew Oxford Covid vaccine order as it backs Pfizer jab

9 May 2021, 17:35

The EU looks set to back Pfizer over Astrazeneca after a dispute with the latter
The EU looks set to back Pfizer over Astrazeneca after a dispute with the latter. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

The EU will not renew its order for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine after its clashed with the pharmaceutical giant over supplies.

Instead, the bloc appears to have doubled down on its support for the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, agreeing a big contract extension for up to 1.8 billion doses to 2023.

Speaking to French radio France Inter, the European Union’s Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said: "We have not renewed the order for after June. We'll see what will happen next."

His comments come two weeks after the bloc began legal proceedings against AstraZeneca as it continues to criticise the company for its supply of doses.

The company has promised to defend itself in court.

Read more: Under 40s to be given alternative to Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

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Various European politicians had criticised it and concerns about a potential link to very rare blood clots were raised – in stark contrast to the UK, where it has become the centrepiece of a successful vaccination campaign.

The jab was intended to be a key part of Europe’s immunisation campaign and, because it is cheaper and easier to use than the Pfizer jab, was also due to be sent to poorer countries.

Concerns over an "extremely small risk" of people suffering blood clots after receiving the AstraZeneca jab did lead the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to recommend offering an alternative jab to people under 40 as a precaution.

But it is still considered overwhelmingly safe and key to bringing an end to the Covid pandemic.

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