The European Union would have vaccinated as much of its population as the United Kingdom has if AstraZeneca had fulfilled its contract to the EU, the head of the EU executive’s vaccine task force said Sunday.
European Commissioner Thierry Breton’s comments threaten to raise the temperature in a months-long dispute between the bloc and the drug maker.
Speaking to Le Parisien newspaper, Breton said:
If we had received the 100% of AstraZeneca's vaccines that were contracted to us, the European Union would be at the same level today as Great Britain in terms of vaccines. So I can say that the pocket of turbulence we have experienced is solely due to AstraZeneca's failure to deliver.
The World Health Organization called the rollout of vaccines in Europe “unacceptably slow” on Wednesday. The WHO European Region (a group of 53 countries including the UK) has vaccinated only 10% of its population with one shot in a two-dose regimen, WHO said in a statement.
The UK has administered about 54 doses of vaccine per 100 people according to data tracked by CNN. No country in the European Union has come anywhere close to that level.
“In the first quarter, (AstraZeneca) delivered only a quarter of the doses we ordered, while the British received all of them, even though our contract was signed before them, in August 2020,” Breton told the French newspaper.