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COVID vaccines: EU to receive 100 million doses per month in second quarter, says EU chief

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels on Dec. 24, 2020.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels on Dec. 24, 2020.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Francisco Seco
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Deliveries to the European Union of COVID-19 vaccines should accelerate to 100 million doses per month from April, the bloc's chief said on Monday.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the Stuttgarter Zeitung and Stuttgarter Nachrichten newspapers in an interview published on Monday that "an average of around 100 million doses" are to be delivered to the bloc per month in the second quarter, to reach "a total of 300 million by the end of June."

She said in comments relayed by DPA that the figures are based on "manufacturers' plans" and the fact that "further vaccines are about to be approved."

According to Brussels, the bloc had received 51.5 million doses by February 26. Euronews has reached out to the Commission to enquire about the number of doses the bloc is expected to have received by the end of the month.

Brussels has coordinated the bloc's vaccination strategy and struck deals with pharmaceutical companies to supply the 27 member states. But it's been harshly criticised for the slow roll-out of the vaccines, which was compounded in early January by both Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca/Oxford University announcing delays.

As of March 6, some 40.2 million jabs had been administered in the EU's 27 nations compared to 87.9 million in the US and 22.9 million in the UK, according to Our World in Data.

Pfizer has since ramped up production and the Commission announced last month that it would up deliveries to the bloc by a further 200 million doses this year while Moderna, the third vaccine currently approved by the EU regulator, will also increase its 2021 deliveries by 150 million doses. They are now expected to deliver a combined 860 million doses before the end of the year.

However, AstraZeneca announced last month that it would miss its delivery target to the EU in the second quarter. The British firm delivered about half of what it was expected to in the first three months of the year. It is contracted to provide at least 300 million doses to the EU.

The delays prompted the Italian authorities to block a shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines to Australia last week.

Several member states have also broken ranks with the EU by rolling out vaccines from China and Russia which have not be reviewed or approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

The EMA announced last week that it had started a rolling review of Russia's Sputnik V jab. It is expected to approve the Johnson & Johnson vaccine later this week.