Czech Republic in Talks With AstraZeneca for Vaccines Outside EU Deal

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The Czech Republic is in talks with AstraZeneca to secure COVID-19 vaccine supplies on top of the three million doses reserved for the country under an EU deal, news website Seznam Zpravy reported on Saturday.

Citing a Health Ministry spokeswoman, the report said the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker had offered the country further deliveries of its vaccine, and that the ongoing talks were about details such as the number of doses, price, and delivery dates.

The European Commission, the European Union’s executive, has signed supply deals with vaccine makers for doses to be distributed on a pro-rata basis to member states, which have committed not to hold parallel talks.

Saturday’s Seznam Zpravy report said the Health Ministry still had to verify to what extent bilateral deals were in line with the EU deal.

The number of newly registered Covid cases reached 8,782 on Friday, roughly 160 more than on the same day a week ago. The Covid-related death toll crossed the 18,000 mark on Friday.

AstraZeneca is scrambling to find more manufacturers to produce its coronavirus vaccine in Europe after the drugmaker’s bet on a limited number of sites fell short.

By the end of January, only one continental plant — located in Seneffe in Belgium — was authorized to manufacture the drug substance for the vaccine coveted by governments across Europe, alongside two sites in the U.K. and U.S.

After announcing the company would be unable to deliver nearly two-thirds of the 100 million doses it promised the EU by the end of March, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot initially pointed the finger at the Belgian plant, now owned by U.S. company Thermo Fisher Scientific.

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