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EU Turns To India To Fill AstraZeneca Vaccine Supply Gap: Reuters

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EU Turns To India To Fill AstraZeneca Vaccine Supply Gap: Reuters

The European Union has asked India to allow it to buy 10 million doses of AstraZeneca Plc’s (NASDAQ: AZN) COVID-19 vaccine from Serum Institute of India, a government official told Reuters.

What Happened: “The E.U. ambassador wrote a letter, saying, please give us (export) approvals,” said the source, adding the letter was sent around two weeks ago.

India is under growing pressure to export more of its production to other countries.

The E.U. wants the doses from Serum to offset supply shortfalls from AstraZeneca’s European plants and speed up the bloc’s shaky vaccine roll-out.

Any quick approval of the E.U. request is unlikely, and India is working on expanding its domestic vaccination drive, said the Indian government official.

According to the sources, Britain is also pressuring India to export the second half of 10 million doses it had ordered from Serum.

India has said that it is now focused on expanding its immunization campaign after the government was criticized for shipping tens of millions of doses overseas.

Why It Matters: In February, Serum Institute’s CEO Adar Poonawalla said, “SII has been directed to prioritize the huge needs of India and, along with that, balance the needs of the rest of the world. We are trying our best”. 

According to Reuters, Africa’s disease control body said that India’s temporary hold on major exports of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot will undermine its vaccination plans and could have a “catastrophic” impact if extended. 

The African Union had planned to vaccinate 30-35% of the continent’s population by the end of the year, he said. “If the vaccines are delayed, we are unlikely to meet our target,” said John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Earlier this week, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJannounced it would supply the African Union with up to 400 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine that will start in the third quarter of this year and will continue through 2022.

Price Action: AZN shares are down 0.38% at $49.53 in market trading hours on the last check Thursday.

 

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