AstraZeneca vaccine delivery to Ireland delayed amid 'glitch' in production

AstraZeneca has warned EU officials that the delivery of vaccines in the first quarter of this year will be delayed due to issues with European manufacturing.

The EU expected to receive 80m doses of the AstraZeneca jab before the end of March 2021, 600,000 of which were due to be delivered to Ireland.

However, Reuters has confirmed that the company is set to cut the EUs vaccine delivery by 60%, meaning that only 31m of the promised doses are set to arrive on time.

Additionally, the 80m further vaccines AstraZeneca had pledged to deliver between April and June may also not be possible to fulfill.

The reduced deliveries are due to production problems at a vaccine factory in Belgium run by the pharma giants partner firm, Novasep.

Taoiseach Michel Martin previously described the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was developed in collaboration with Oxford University, as a game changer and predicted that the doses would arrive in Ireland by mid-February.

Martin told the Dil: The key game changer for us in this, in terms of the availability of vaccines, will be AstraZeneca.

We envisage significant ramping up particularly in February, March, April. And then May, June will be significant months as well, because the number of vaccines we will have will be very significant.

It will no longer be a supply and demand issue, it will be the workforce issue. That work is well advanced.

The recent news, however, may throw a wrench in the countrys roll-out plans.

At time of writing, the jabs are still yet to be approved by the European Medicines Agency, though the regulatory body is due to meet on the issue on 29 January.