AstraZeneca must deliver before exporting again - NationNews Barbados

European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen looks on as she arrives at the European Parliament to explain the European Union's vaccine strategy to the European Parliament in Brussels on 10 February 2021

In the European Union, an angry debate is ongoing about delays in the production and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines to its member countries. The company has denied that it is failing to honour its contract. Despite the lack of support, the rules are already in force through an "implementing regulation".

But after the talks, Rutte said that Austria does not seem to be in "bad shape at the moment" while the member states had asked ambassadors to find a solution for harder-hit Bulgaria, Croatia and Latvia.

"I think it is clear that, first of all, the company has to catch up, has to honour the contract it has with the European member states, before it can engage again in exporting vaccines", European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, renewing a threat she made on Wednesday to stop the pharmaceutical giant exporting vaccines made in the EU.

Stressing on worldwide cooperation, Dr Swaminathan said to CNN's Christiane Amanpour that the daily global death toll of 7,000-10,000 is "unnecessary and preventable", and that vaccines should be "equitably and fairly distributed around the world".

"Our track record speaks for itself. Since the start of the mechanism on February 1, more than 380 export requests have been made, and only one has been stopped", von der Leyen pointed out. Only 62 million of vaccine doses have been administered across the EU.

During the European Union summit, the Commission told European Union leaders that 18.2 million people have been fully vaccinated so far in Europe, nearly 4.1% of the population.

The situation could still change if the export mechanism is used. "And this is of course the case with AstraZeneca", von der Leyen said.

She said that, since the beginning of December, companies in the European Union had sent 77 million doses of Covid vaccines out of the bloc - with an European Union official noting that more than a quarter of those went to Britain.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi reserved harsh words for AstraZeneca, according to EU sources, with the premier saying European citizens felt "disappointed" and "fooled" by the company. Europe should be the world leader in producing coronavirus vaccines by the end of the year with 52 factories taking part in the process across the continent, Breton said.

Von der Leyen demanded that the United Kingdom provide reciprocity for vaccine exports in the future.

The single-shot Johnson&Johnson vaccine will increase the array of vaccine available in the second quarter, providing countries with a valuable tool in fighting the pandemic.

An online summit held on Thursday discussed the vaccines, whose delivery has been delayed so far.

Another manufacturing site in Leiden, the Netherlands will produce AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine.

So far, though, such powers have only been used to stop one out of 381 shipments from leaving the bloc- a batch of over 250,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine headed to Australia, a country where the coronavirus outbreak is much less severe compared to Europe.