The Ministry of Health announced on Tuesday that AstraZeneca, which is developing a vaccine against Covid-19 with the University of Oxford, will deliver 4.6 million doses to France by the end of March, half less than expected.
The British pharmaceutical company has refused to take "vaccines from Europeans to sell them elsewhere at a profit".
AstraZeneca will deliver 4.6 million doses of its Covid vaccine to France by the end of March, half less than expected, the Ministry of Health said on Tuesday.
A major pitfall for the French vaccine strategy: the delivery delay announced on Friday by the British laboratory will result in a supply halved until spring.
Already, the "problems in clinical trials" of AstraZeneca in the fall had led to revise the forecasts sharply, recalls the ministry: instead of the 17.5 million doses from December to March provided for in the initial contract, Paris was only expecting 9 million in February and March.
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"It's a big disappointment" for the ministry
If the authorization of the European Medicines Agency is still hoped for at the end of January - Friday except for another rebound - the "drop in yield" in a factory of the pharmaceutical group will therefore again reduce this figure by half.
"It is a great disappointment," said the health ministry, adding that the government "will deal with the European Union to ask AstraZeneca for an explanation."
In Brussels, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Monday called the boss of the British laboratory to "honor the contracts and conditions provided for in the pre-order agreement".
The EU is now demanding "transparency" on the export outside the EU of the doses produced there.
Questioned, the British pharmaceutical company "certainly does not take vaccines from Europeans to sell them elsewhere at a profit", says its CEO Pascal Soriot.
"It would make no sense," said the French leader in an interview given Tuesday to the LENA (Leading European Newspaper Alliance), of which the daily
Le Figaro is part
The laboratory, partner with the University of Oxford, has pledged not to make a profit on the sale of vaccines during the pandemic.
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"I think the populations of Europe are extremely stressed and tired"
"The whole purpose of (these) contracts was to finance the start of production upstream", recalls the French ministry, which considers that "the company should have started production as soon as it could" and "put in vaccine stock to start delivering them to us once (authorization) has been received.
"I think the populations of Europe are extremely stressed and tired by this pandemic which has lasted for a year. Governments are under pressure", added Pascal Soriot in this interview, specifying that Europe "which represents 5% of the world population, will obtain 17% of our production in February ".
The boss of AstraZeneca also affirms in this interview that the laboratory is working "with the University of Oxford on a vaccine that will target" the South African variant of Covid-19, a virus more transmissible than the first version of the new coronavirus .