The European Union has said that UK-Swedish drug firm AstraZeneca will now supply an additional nine million Covid vaccine doses by March, after days of criticism of the bloc’s vaccination programme.
European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen announced through a tweet that the extra jabs will come in the first three months of the year, making a total of 40 million doses for that period. She said it was a step forward.
The Commission has been involved in a much-criticised row with both the UK and AstraZeneca this week. It was condemned over its threat to put checks on the Northern Ireland border to prevent vaccines produced in the European Union from reaching the UK.
The border was one of the most difficult problems to overcome in the recently agreed Brexit deal, following the UK’s departure from the European Union.
The EU was angry that Britain was getting its UK-made contracted supplies from AstraZeneca while it suffered a shortfall. So the bloc announced it was introducing export controls on coronavirus vaccines made inside the EU to try to protect its supplies. The Brexit deal ensures there are no obstacles to trade between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.