Coronavirus

EU: AstraZeneca to supply 9 million more vaccine doses

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a joint news conference with European Council President Charles Michel at the end of a EU summit video conference at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. European Union leaders assessed more measures to counter the spread of coronavirus variants during a video summit Thursday as the bloc's top disease control official said urgent action was needed to stave off a new wave of hospitalizations and deaths. (Olivier Hoslet, Pool Photo via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has agreed to supply 9 million additional doses of its coronavirus vaccine to the European Union during the first quarter, the bloc’s executive branch said Sunday.

The new target of 40 million doses by the end of March is still only half what the British-Swedish company had originally aimed for, triggering a spat between AstraZeneca and the EU last week.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said after a call with seven vaccine makers Sunday that AstraZeneca will also begin deliveries one week sooner than scheduled and expand its manufacturing capacity in Europe.

“Step forward on vaccines,” tweeted Von der Leyen, who has come under intense pressure over the European Commission’s handling of the vaccine orders in recent days.

The EU is far behind Britain and the United States in getting its population of 450 million vaccinated against the virus. The slow rollout has been blamed on a range of national problems as well as delayed approval of the vaccines compared to elsewhere and an initial shortage of supply.

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