The European Commission’s contract with AstraZeneca to supply the European Union says that the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker should make its best efforts to manufacture its vaccine in the bloc and in former EU member Britain.
AstraZeneca agreed on Friday (January 29) to publish its advance purchase agreement as the EU pressed the company to deliver the doses it had promised. AstraZeneca has cut deliveries, citing production problems.
The 41-page document had certain parts redacted related to some confidential information such as invoices. It did contain a significant section on manufacturing and supply.
In Section 5.4, which concerns manufacturing sites, the contract reads: “AstraZeneca shall use its Best Reasonable Efforts to manufacture the vaccine at manufacturing sites located within the EU (which for the purpose of this Section 5.4 only shall include the United Kingdom)”
It goes on to say that the company may manufacture at facilities elsewhere to accelerate supply of the vaccine in Europe provided that it gives prior notification.
The contract does not say whether AstraZeneca is obliged to send vaccines produced in Britain to the European Union. The Commission has said it does have the right to doses made in Britain.
The Commission, which signed the order with AstraZeneca, said it welcomed the company’s commitment towards more transparency.
AstraZeneca and the EU had signed a deal for up to 400 million doses of the vaccine. The firm unexpectedly announced cuts of up to 60% in supplies to the region in the first quarter last week, citing production problems at a Belgian factory, which triggered a furious response from the bloc.
The EU is now looking into a scheme to monitor and authorise export of vaccines, potentially blocking them if its own supply is not met.