EU calls on AstraZeneca to honor commitments, demanding "no hierarchy" of its factories

BRUSSELS, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides on Wednesday called on AstraZeneca to live up to its contractual, societal, and moral obligations as the European Union (EU) criticizes the company for not being able to deliver the amount of COVID-19 vaccine as agreed.

"Let me be crystal clear: the 27 European Union Member States are united that AstraZeneca needs to deliver on its commitments in our agreement. We are in a pandemic. We lose people every day. These are not numbers. They are not statistics. These are persons, with families, with friends and colleagues that are all affected as well," she told a press conference.

Kyriakides was giving the latest update amid continuous talks with the company over its new schedule that considerably cut doses supply to the EU.

AstraZeneca Chief Executive Pascal Soriot rejected claims that his company was failing to honor its commitments. He told Italian newspaper La Repubblica that the contract was a "best effort" commitment which means it would try its best.

Kyriakides rejected this statement, saying the view that the company was not obliged to deliver was "neither correct nor acceptable." She said the advance purchase agreement was precisely signed so the company could build manufacturing capacity to produce the vaccine early and deliver doses the day it is authorized.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom, where the pharmaceutical company is headquartered and has been granted the authorization for marketing, has not reported any shortage. The company has two plants in Britain and two others in the EU producing the vaccine.

Kyriakides stressed that "there is no hierarchy of the factories," meaning that part of the doses delivered to the UK may need to be shifted to the EU instead. "The UK factories are part of our advanced purchase agreements, and this is why they have to deliver."

The commissioner demanded "all companies to be as transparent as possible with information" about the production and export.

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