It's 'Highly Probable' EU Won't Renew AstraZeneca Vaccine

This could further delay jab rollouts in the EU.
Brad Bergan

The European Union most likely won't renew its COVID-19 vaccine contracts with AstraZeneca after countries have paused the company's vaccine rollout, said a French minister in an AFP report.

If the E.U. doesn't renew, it would mark AstraZeneca's vaccine as the first to fizzle out of distribution in a major geopolitical region, in the fight to bring an early end to the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis by immunizing the human race.

European Union has yet to enter talks with Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca

This comes on the heels of Denmark banning AstraZeneca jabs after concerns surrounding blood clots in some people who received the vaccine while the E.U. announced it would receive 50 million Pfizer vaccine doses ahead of schedule. However, the E.U. has yet to reach a final decision. But French Industry Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said "it is highly probable" that the E.U. will order no additional AstraZeneca, to RMC radio.

Additionally, Johnson & Johnson said it'd delay its rollout in Europe in light of concerns surrounding blood clots, which has put a serious hold on the continent's slowing immunization campaign while numerous countries experience surging caseloads.

"We have not started talks with Johnson & Johnson or with AstraZeneca for a new contract, but we have started talks with Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna," said Pannier-Runacher. The delays to J&J and AstraZeneca's rollouts are dashing hopes that mass immunizations to bring a quick end to the COVID-19 pandemic — which has already killed nearly three million people and damaged the world's economy. Fifty million BioNTech/Pfizer doses scheduled for arrival in Europe at the end of 2021 were moved up, and might be delivered later this month.

Blood clot reportedly linked to AstraZeneca 'happens in the head'

On Wednesday, Denmark announced it would halt all use of the AstraZeneca vaccine — the first of European nations to do so — despite word from the EMA and the World Health Organization that the risks didn't overshadow the benefits of using the vaccine.

The AstraZeneca rollout's initial snagged involved European countries suspending the use of the vaccine for people under the age of 60 — amid reports linking atypical blood clots to recent recipients of the shot. Outside of the E.U., Canada had also imposed restrictions on the use of the AZ jab. In Germany, officials in Munich, Berlin, and the eastern state of Brandenburg had put a temporary halt in place on AZ vaccinations, which came on the heels of 31 reports of blood clots from people who had received the AZ vaccine — nine of whom died.

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The blood clot linked to AstraZeneca and potentially J&J vaccines reportedly happens in the head, during an event known as sinus vein thrombosis, the occurrence of which initially led European authorities to halt AstraZeneca vaccine jabs in early March.

It's tremendously important not to overreact to the news that the E.U. might not renew its order of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Cars are recalled all of the time, but people still drive them. The general take from this forthcoming move from European nations is that the most rapidly-developed vaccines in the world may not be perfect the first time around in the struggle to swiftly end the COVID-19 pandemic. This shouldn't come as a surprise.

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