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MILAN, April 14 (Reuters) - The EU Commission has decided not to renew COVID-19 vaccine contracts next year with AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson (J&J), Italian daily La Stampa reported on Wednesday, citing a source from the Italian health ministry.
“The European Commission, in agreement with the leaders of many (EU) countries, has decided that the contracts with the companies that produce (viral vector) vaccines that are valid for the current year will not be renewed at their expiry,” the newspaper reported.
It added that Brussels would rather focus on COVID-19 vaccines using messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, such as Pfizer’s and Moderna’s.
A spokesman for the EU Commission said it was keeping all options open to be prepared for the next stages of the pandemic, for 2022 and beyond.
“We cannot, however, comment on contractual issues,” the spokesman added.
Later on Wednesday the President of the European Commission said the EU was in talks with Pfizer and BionTech for a new contract for 1.8 billion doses, confirming a Reuters report from last week.
“We need to focus on technologies that have proven their worth. mRNA vaccines are a clear case in point,” she added.
The Italian health ministry declined to comment.
The European Commission is seeking clarification from J&J about the company’s “completely unexpected” announcement of delays in COVID-19 vaccine deliveries to the EU, an EU official told Reuters on Tuesday. (Reporting by Maria Pia Quaglia, additional reporting by Emilio Parodi in Milan and Francesco Guarascio in Brussels, editing by Jane Merriman)