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No decision made yet on future contracts with AZ, J&J, French minister says

Fri 16th April, 2021 9:39am
PARIS, April 16 (Reuters) - No decision has been made yet on
whether the European Union should sign new contracts for
COVID-19 vaccines with AstraZeneca  AZN.L  and Johnson & Johnson
 JNJ.N , a French junior industry minister said on Friday.
    "The decision has not been made," Agnes Pannier-Runacher
told BFM television. "But we have not initiated discussions with
AZ and J&J for a new contract."
    She said it was unlikely the EU would sign new contracts
with the two companies. Both vaccines are based on a viral
vector technology, a method to make vaccines which is now under
investigation for rare, serious side-effects on people who got
shots against COVID-19.
    It is unclear whether the EU will exercise its options to
order more doses from the two companies under existing
    Under the current deals, EU states could buy another 100
million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in addition to 300
million shots already ordered. They could also use the option to
double the supply of Johnson & Johnson shots to 400 million. 
    The Italian newspaper La Stampa reported earlier that the EU
was set to end the contracts when they expire at the end of this
    The EU has already exercised options for more doses under
the first contracts signed with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
After that, it also signed a second contract with both
companies, which make vaccines based on mRNA technology.
    The EU is also now negotiating a third contract with
Pfizer-BioNTech for new deliveries from 2022.
    "We need to focus on technologies that have proven their
worth -- mRNA vaccines are a clear case in point," Ursula von
der Leyen, the president of the EU Commission, said on
    A Commission spokesman said the EU was keeping all options
open for future contracts and has not ruled out any vaccine
    U.S. health agencies earlier this week recommended pausing
the use of the J&J shot after six women under the age of 50
developed rare blood clots after receiving it, in a fresh
setback to efforts to tackle the pandemic. J&J also said it
would delay rollout of the vaccine to Europe.
    The halt follows restrictions imposed by many European
countries on using an alternative vaccine from AstraZeneca in
response to similar reports of blood clotting among a small
number of recipients.

 (Reporting by Matthias Blamont and Francesco Guarascio; editing
by Larry King)
 ((; +33 1 4949 5054 ;
Reuters Messaging: @matthiasblamont))
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