The European Union is doubling down on calls for drug-maker AstraZeneca to meet its original contract for COVID-19 vaccines.
The Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides, said there was a 'constructive tone' in a meeting with AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot on Wednesday night.
She said the EU remains "united and firm" and that contractual obligations "must be met, vaccines must be delivered to EU citizens".
"We regret the continued lack of clarity on the delivery schedule and request a clear plan from AstraZeneca for the fast delivery of the quantity of vaccines that we reserved for Q1.
"We will work with the company to find solutions and deliver vaccines rapidly for EU citizens," she tweeted.
Constructive tone in our exchange with @AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot, in our Vaccine Steering Board, on deliveries of their vaccine following approval. The EU remains united & firm ➡️ Contractual obligations must be met, vaccines must be delivered to EU citizens.
— Stella Kyriakides (@SKyriakidesEU) January 27, 2021
It is the latest move in an escalating row between the two sides, after AstraZeneca announced that production issues mean the EU will be receiving a substantially lower supply of the vaccine in the coming months than initially expected.
The reduction in supply means Ireland is expected to get around 300,000 doses - instead of an expected 600,000 - by the end of March.
Mr Soriot had claimed it never agreed to a specific timeline, and would deliver doses on a 'best effort' basis.
The two sides met on Wednesday night, following earlier reports AstraZeneca pulled out of the scheduled meeting - reports the company denied.
Commissioner Kyriakides said an earlier meeting resulted "again in insufficient explanations from the company, and deep dissatisfaction among the member states."
"Let me be crystal clear: the 27 European Union member states are united that AstraZeneca needs to deliver on its commitments in our agreement.
"We are in a pandemic. We lose people every day.
"These are not numbers. They are not statistics. These are persons, with families, with friends and colleagues that are all affected as well."
She added: "The view that the company is not obliged to deliver because we signed a 'best effort' agreement is neither correct nor is it acceptable.
"We signed an Advance Purchase Agreement for a product which at the time did not exist, and which still today is not yet authorised.
"And we signed it precisely to ensure that the company builds the manufacturing capacity to produce the vaccine early, so that they can deliver a certain volume of doses the day that it is authorised."
"We reject the logic of first come, first served. That may work at the neighbourhood butchers, but not in contracts. And not in our Advance Purchase Agreements.
"There's no priority clause in the Advance Purchase Agreement.
"And there's also no hierarchy of the four production plants named in the Advance Purchase Agreement. Two are located in the EU and two are located in UK.
"We intend to defend the integrity of our investments and the taxpayers' money that has been invested," she added.