German health ministry spokesman Hanno Kautz said he expects the European Union to approve the AstraZeneca Covid-19 shot this Friday.
The vaccine -- which has already been approved for emergency use in the UK -- has been under review by the European Medicines Agency since January 12. The bloc has already fast-tracked the reviews for the Pfizer/BioNTech shot as well as the Moderna vaccine and both have been authorized for use.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke to AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot on Monday morning over the phone and "made it clear that she expects AstraZeneca to deliver on the contractual arrangements foreseen in the advance purchasing agreement," EU Commission chief spokesperson Eric Mamer said.
The conversation between the two comes after the EU expressed its “deep dissatisfaction” on Friday, after being informed by AstraZeneca that vaccine deliveries to member states -- pending authorization -- would not arrive before the end of the first quarter of 2021, as originally forecast.
Von der Leyen reminded AstraZeneca that "the EU has invested significant amounts in the company up front, precisely to ensure that production is ramped up even before the conditional marketing authorization is delivered by the European Medicines Agency," Mamer said.
"Of course, production issues can appear with a complex vaccine but we expect the company to find solutions and to exploit all possible flexibilities to deliver swiftly," Mamer added.
Separately EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides sent a letter to AstraZeneca Sunday "to request further clarifications" over the shortfall of its deliveries, EU spokesperson Stefan de Keersmaecker said Monday.
“In this letter the Commissioner stresses the importance of deliveries in line with the schedules laid down in the agreement, and she reiterated that the scaling up of the production capacity has to happen concurrently with the conduct of clinical trials to ensure the availability of vaccines as quickly as possible. This is really important premise of the contract," de Keersmaecker added.