Pfizer comes to the rescue of the EU after suspension of AstraZeneca vaccine
The vaccination campaign in Europe is on the way to becoming a roller coaster of emotions. In the midst of the crisis of the 27 member states of the EU due to the increasingly widespread decision among members to stop immunization with AstraZeneca due to cases of strange embolisms, and when the continent saw its promise to get 70% of the European population vaccinated for late summer, Pfizer has come to the rescue. The German-American consortium informed the European Commission today (Tuesday) that they will deliver more than 200 million doses in the second quarter, from April.
The new forecasts assume that the EU will receive 10 million more doses, which, until now, would not arrive until the third and fourth quarters, but above all, Spanish Ministry of Health officials acknowledged this morning, is a "confirmation" that Pfizer, after the supply problems in the first quarter due to the readjustments in production, will be able to meet its commitments. “This is very good news. It gives member states room to manoeuvre and possibly fill the gaps in deliveries," said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
According to the commission's agreements, Spain will have approximately 20 million doses of this Pfizer delivery, enough to immunize 10 million people before June. The acceleration of the supply by Pfizer/Biontech will mean that Spain, with about a million additional doses, will be able to immunize an additional half a million inhabitants with the two doses, a volume, which they acknowledge from the Ministry of Health, does not fill the "hole", but it does improve the situation. Since British laboratories began to deliver the AstraZeneca formula to the EU on February 8th, it has delivered 1.7 million doses to Spain in just over a month.
Meanwhile, Sweden and Lithuania today joined the ever-growing list of countries that have suspended AstraZeneca vaccination, while waiting for experts to clarify the possible relationship between the inoculation of British prophylaxis, and cases of rare brain thrombi and blood clotting problems found in relatively young people who have just received the Oxford University formula.
Sweden, which was the last Nordic country to continue administering the vaccine without restrictions, and Lithuania, which already last week had blocked the administration of the first batch under suspicion of AstraZeneca, thus joins countries such as Spain, France, Germany, Italy , Portugal and the Netherlands.
The preventive veto to AstraZeneca, both totally or partially to some of its lots, is therefore extended by the EU, but not by the rest of the world. The UK, which is the country that is using this compound in the highest percentage for the immunization of its citizens, has insisted from the beginning of this crisis that it does not consider that there are indications that link the vaccine to strokes.
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This is despite the fact that in recent days it has reported three cases of cerebral thrombi identical to those registered in Spain, Germany and Norway, and which caused the 'big' Europeans to suspend the administration of this product. Britain was joined on Tuesday by Australia in announcing that it is keeping its vaccination program with AstraZeneca intact.' As there is currently no evidence that it causes blood clots', although reported side effects will be investigated as a 'precautionary measure'.
Large European countries are confident that they will be able to resume vaccination with AstraZeneca very soon, which is being the second most important supplier to the EU, only surpassed by Pfizer. The Ministry of Health said today that the World Health Organization (WHO) is meeting to assess the safety of the drug after the thirty cases of embolisms reported in Europe.
Spain and the rest of the EU countries that have 'paused' the administration of the vaccine and will not take any decisions until there is an 'unequivocal opinion' from the European Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
EMA specialists have scheduled a first meeting for Thursday and hope to meet with AstraZeneca scientists, although the Ministry of Health cannot confirm whether the European regulator will be able to give a verdict on that day or not.