EU health official blasts slow vaccine delivery, and is consulting with Canada

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OTTAWA — The Trudeau government is being urged to follow the tough talk of Europe's health minister, who Wednesday accused a vaccine company of not living up to its moral and legal obligations because of delivery delays.

Vaccine maker AstraZeneca was the recipient of the scathing message from Stella Kyriakides, European commissioner for health and food safety, during a briefing in Brussels.

Kyriakides said buying vaccines during a pandemic shouldn't be treated like a first-come, first-served trip to a neighbourhood butcher shop when people are dying in large numbers.

Lawrence Herman, a veteran international trade lawyer and former Canadian diplomat, says Kyriakides was setting an example for the Trudeau government to follow in pushing European big pharma to live up to its promises to Canada.

Canada faces a sharp decline in deliveries from Pfizer and BioNTech this month but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is "very confident" after recently speaking with the heads of Pfizer and Moderna that all promised doses will arrive by the end of March.

Health Canada has yet to approve AstraZeneca's vaccine because it is waiting for company results from a large trial in the United States.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021.

The Canadian Press