The European Union has not decided yet whether to sign new contracts for COVID-19 vaccines with AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, a French junior industry minister said on Friday, Reuters said. “The decision has not been made,” Agnes Pannier-Runacher told BFM television. “But we have not initiated discussions with AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson for a new contract.” The minister said it was unlikely the EU would sign new contracts with the two companies.
The Italian newspaper La Stampa reported earlier that the EU was set to end the contracts when they expire at the end of this year. Both vaccines are based on a viral vector technology, a method to make vaccines which is now under investigation for rare, serious side-effects.
The European Commission earlier sought clarification from J&J about the company’s “completely unexpected” announcement of delays in COVID-19 vaccine deliveries to the EU, an EU official told Reuters on Tuesday.
Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday said it is delaying the rollout of its coronavirus vaccine in Europe amid a US probe into rare blood clots. The decision came after regulators in the United States said they were recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose shot to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots.
” The safety and well-being of the people who use our products is our number one priority. We are aware of an extremely rare disorder involving people with blood clots in combination with low platelets in a small number of individuals who have received our COVID-19 vaccine,” the pharma major said in a statement.
“The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are reviewing data involving six reported US cases out of more than 6.8 million doses administered. Out of an abundance of caution, the CDC and FDA have recommended a pause in the use of our vaccine,” it further added.
mRNA COVID-19 vaccine over viral vector vaccine?
The EU has already exercised options for more doses under the first contracts signed with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. After that, it also signed a second contract with both companies, which make vaccines based on mRNA technology. The EU is also now negotiating a third contract with Pfizer-BioNTech for new deliveries from 2022.
“We need to focus on technologies that have proven their worth — mRNA vaccines are a clear case in point,” Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the EU Commission, said on Wednesday.