The EU has threatened legal action against the makers of the Oxford AstraZenca vaccine after supplies to the bloc were slowed down in an “unacceptable” move.
The pharmaceutical company announced on Friday it could not meet the agreed supply targets due to an issue with the plant in Belgium.
Reports suggest there could be a 60% cut in supplies to just 31 million doses – despite receiving an upfront payment of £298 million for at least 300 million doses when the agreement was signed in August.
Stella Kyriakides, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, has now threatened legal action.
He said: “This new schedule is not acceptable to the European Union.
“The European Union has pre-financed the development of the vaccine and the production and wants to see the return.
“The European Union wants to know exactly which doses have been produced by AstraZeneca and where exactly so far and if or to whom they have been delivered.
“The answers of the company have not been satisfactory so far… The European Union wants the ordered and pre-financed doses to be delivered as soon as possible. And we want our contract to be fully fulfilled.”
A spokesperson for the firm said it was doing all it could to deliver the jab to millions of Europeans as quickly as possible.
The UK, which is also highly dependent on the vaccine, is also facing wider supply problems with health secretary Matt Hancock admitting supply across the board is “tight”.
He said: “As we know, supply is tight. We’ve had a very strong performance in this past week and I’m confident the NHS will be able to deliver every shot that is made available to it.”