A European Union official said Sunday that the United Kingdom will not be receiving shipments of the AstraZeneca vaccine that have been produced in the Netherlands, as the EU attempts to reserve doses of the vaccine for its citizens.
Speaking to Reuters, an unnamed EU official said, “The Brits are insisting that the Halix plant in the Netherlands must deliver the drug substance produced there to them. That doesn’t work.”
The plant, based in the Dutch city of Leiden, is run by a sub-contractor called Halix and is in charge of supplying AstraZeneca’s contracts with Britain and the EU, Reuters reports.
“What is produced in Halix has to go to the EU,” the EU official said.
“The European Commission will know that the rest of the world is looking at the Commission, about how it conducts itself on this, and if contracts get broken, and undertakings, that is a very damaging thing to happen for a trading bloc that prides itself on the rules of law,” British Defense Minister Ben Wallace said earlier on Sunday in response to reports that European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen had threatened to block shipments to Britain.
The EU had earlier threatened to block exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the U.K., with Von der Leyen saying the situation in Europe was worsening.
However, the EU official shot back, saying to Reuters that no contracts had been broken.
Reuters notes that although the AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use in the EU, approval for Halix has not yet been received. Documents obtained by the news outlet show that Halix expects to receive approval by Thursday.
According to the most recent report from the British National Health Service, 20,661,496 people have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, accounting for 45.4 percent of the U.K. population older than 16.
This dispute comes shortly after several European countries temporarily halted the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine due to concerns that it caused blood clots. Countries including Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland and Norway all suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine pending a recommendation from the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
On Thursday, the EMA announced that it found the AstraZeneca vaccine to be safe and effective, though it could not rule out a link between the shot and blood clots. The EMA said the benefits of the shot far outweighed the potential risks.
“Our scientific position is that this vaccine is a safe and effective option to protect citizens against COVID-19,” EMA Executive Director Emer Cooke said. “We made this review our highest priority.”
UK won’t get AstraZeneca vaccine from EU: report | TheHill – The Hill