AstraZeneca will deliver nine million additional doses to the European Union in the first quarter of this year, bringing the total number of doses to 40 million, but falling well short of earlier supply promises.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in her announcement Sunday that the company would also deliver the vaccines one week earlier than originally scheduled, and that the company planned to expands its manufacturing capacity in Europe.
But the new delivery is half of the agreed-upon 80 million doses originally expected for the first quarter. The EU signed a deal in August for 300 million AstraZeneca doses, according to the BBC, with an option for 100 million more.
Von der Leyen called Sunday’s news “a step forward on vaccines,” appearing to signal that simmering tensions between the 27-nation bloc and the company are alleviated, for now.
The vaccine supply issue caused the EU and AstraZeneca to spar in recent days over the pharmaceutical company’s sudden announcement that it couldn’t fulfill the order for 80 million doses due to manufacturing problems.
Von der Leyen responded last week to AstraZeneca’s delivery delays by saying that the EU is spending billions on vaccines and expects pharmaceutical companies to hold up their end of the deal. In response, the EU introduced export controls on coronavirus vaccines made inside the EU to try to protect its supplies.
The AstraZeneca vaccine, which was developed with the University of Oxford, requires two doses, from four to 12 weeks apart. In clinical trials, it showed around 60% efficacy in protecting people from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, according to the European Medicines Agency.
The agency approved the vaccine for use by the general public on Friday.