Denmark this week banned the use of AstraZeneca jabs over blood clot concerns, just as the EU said it was expecting 50 million Pfizer vaccine doses earlier than expected.
No final EU decision had been taken, French Industry Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher told RMC radio, but “it is highly probable” that no further AstraZeneca doses would be ordered.
“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,” Pannier-Runacher said.
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AstraZeneca has had major problems in fulfilling its orders to the EU, with the Bloc ending up with many million fewer doses of the vaccine than it was expecting in the first two quarters, which has had an effect on the speed of the rollout across EU countries.
Denmark said on Wednesday it would stop using the AstraZeneca vaccine altogether over blood clot fears, despite assurances from the EMA and the World Health Organization that the benefits far outweigh possible risks.
Switzerland has never licensed the AstraZeneca vaccine for use and most other European countries now restrict the vaccine only to the older population, who appear to be less at risk from the rare blood clots that have been associated with it.
Pannier-Runacher’s prediction comes after US drugmaker Johnson & Johnson said it would delay its European rollout, also over blood clot fears – a major hit for the continent’s immunisation campaign as several countries battle rising caseloads.
The J&J and AstraZeneca setbacks are dampening hopes that mass immunisations will allow a swift exit from a pandemic that has killed close to three million people and ravaged the global economy.
Meanwhile, 50 million BioNTech/Pfizer doses that were due to arrive in Europe only at the end of 2021 have been brought forward for delivery as soon as this month.