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Coronavirus: Row between AstraZeneca and EU continues as Germany advises against use on over 65s for


The row between AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) and the EU over COVID-19 vaccines has continued through to Thursday, when Germany’s Robert Koch Institute, the country’s main public agency, released its recommendation on the jab.

Researchers said it should only be used in people aged 18 to 64 because there isn’t enough data to prove its efficacy on over 65s.

They also said the inoculations produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are “equivalent in terms of safety and efficacy”, the FT reported.

The drugmaker was meant to provide 80mln doses of the jab in the first quarter of 2021 but informed the bloc on Friday that there would be significant shortfalls on the schedule and it would be able to deliver around half of the agreed quantities.

The two parties met on Wednesday night, following some confusion over a potential cancellation of the meeting, where an EU official suggested the FTSE 100 group delivered some supplies that were assigned for the UK to make up for the shortfall.

“We reject the logic of ‘first come, first served’ – that may work at the neighbourhood butchers but not in contracts,” Brussels’s health commissioner Stella Kyriakides was reported as saying by Sky News.

“There is no hierarchy of the factories. You are aware in the contracts there are four factories listed but it does not differentiate between the UK and Europe.”

“The UK factories are part of our advance purchase agreements and that is why they have to deliver.”

On Thursday, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said there will be no interruption to UK vaccine supplies.

“The critical thing is we must make sure that the schedule that has been agreed and on which our vaccination programme has been based and planned goes ahead,” he told the BBC.

“It is the case that the supplies that have been planned, paid for and scheduled should continue, absolutely. There will be no interruption to that.”

Meanwhile, Belgium has launched an investigation into the pharma company’s plant near Brussels to understand whether EU-produced batches have been diverted to the UK.

Chief executive Pascal Soriot said earlier this week the delays are because the bloc signed up supply contracts three months after the UK, therefore Britain had more time to sort out teething problems.

The jab, developed by Oxford University, has still not been approved in Europe.

Shares in AstraZeneca were trading 2% lower at 7,614p on Thursday afternoon.

Valneva starts mass production in Scotland

French firm Valneva has begun large-scale vaccine manufacturing at its Livingston site in Scotland.

It will pump out up to 60mln jabs before the end of the year if the vaccine, now at the first stage of clinical trials, is approved.

London has already secured 60mln doses with options acquire a further 130mln after the authorities’ green light.

–Adds statement by Robert Koch Institute, shares–

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