Brief: First Shot in the Vaccine Wars

The EU is requiring vaccine makers to seek national approval before exporting COVID-19 jabs outside the bloc.

Background: EU member states are trailing their peers in terms of economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, and all sorts of issues with their vaccine rollouts risk making things much worse. The sooner countries can get large swaths of their populations vaccinated, the sooner normal economic activity can return and the economic recovery can really begin. But the bloc’s vaccination strategy was thrown into total disarray this week, when AstraZeneca notified Brussels that it would deliver only about a quarter of its promised 100 million doses in the first three months of the year. What Happened: The European Commission on Friday unveiled a mechanism authorizing member states to block exports of coronavirus vaccines from companies that have not met the delivery targets laid out in their advanced purchasing agreements with the EU. This could affect AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech, both of which heavily utilize production sites in Europe and are behind on their delivery schedules to the bloc. (It may also affect Moderna, which said Friday that it was running behind on deliveries to Italy and France.) The United States should be in the clear, since both AstraZeneca and Pfizer have U.S.-based production facilities, but the news is alarming for many […]

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