AstraZeneca cut its supply forecast of COVID-19 vaccine to the European Union in the first quarter to about 30 million doses, a third of its contractual obligations and a 25% drop from pledges made last month, a document seen by Reuters shows.
The shortfall is a further blow to EU’s vaccination plans already being hampered by repeated delays in supply and a slow rollout in some nations, Reuters reports.
The AstraZeneca document, shared with EU officials and dated March 10, shows that the company now expects to deliver 30.1 million doses by the end of March, and another 20 million in April.
On Feb. 25, AstraZeneca boss Pascal Soriot told the European Parliament that the company would try to deliver 40 million doses by the end of March.
The document shows that on Feb. 24, the Anglo-Swedish company had estimated a supply of only 34 million doses to the EU for the January to March period, well below its contracted target of 90 million doses.
The new cut follows a decision last week by Italy and the European Commission to block a shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines from Italy to Australia, in the first application of an EU mechanism that allows the bloc to refuse export requests from vaccine makers that do not comply with EU supply contracts.
A spokesman for AstraZeneca declined to comment on Friday.
A person familiar with the situation said that the increased deliveries the company had expected for the first quarter did not materialise because of difficulties in moving vaccines through global supply chains.
The United States, from where AstraZeneca expected to partly supply the EU market, told the EU that it would not export AstraZeneca shots in the near future, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing EU officials.
The company had said its initial supply cuts were caused by production problems in the EU.