Astrazeneca will cut its promised supply of its coronavirus vaccine to the EU by 60% in the first quarter of the year.
The company this evening informed the EU Steering Committee that it will not be able to deliver the level of vaccine it had forecast.
The company was expected to deliver around 80 million doses of the vaccine it developed in partnership with Oxford University by the end of March.
The European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety said member states “expressed deep dissatisfaction” with the announcement at the committee.
“We insisted on a precise delivery schedule on the basis of which Member States should be planning their vaccination programs,” she said.
She said the EU will continue to insist the company implements “measures to increase predictability and stability of deliveries,” while working to speed up the delivery of doses.
Astrazeneca said the shortfall is due to “production problems” at its vaccine factory in Belgium.
It now expects to deliver around 31 million doses to the EU in February and March.
Ireland had expected to receive 600,000 doses of the vaccine by April; however, that could now fall to 217,500.
A number of other member states had built their vaccination programmes around the expected delivery.
The Astrazeneca jab is easier to administer on a wide scale because it does not require the same deep freeze storage as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
The European Medicines Agency is expected to approve the Astrazeneca vaccine at the end of this month.