Boris Johnson is expected to lobby EU leaders to halt the export ban on COVID-19 vaccines produced by AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN).

Top politicians of the bloc are scheduled to meet on Thursday to discuss the ban, but Johnson plans to hold one-on-one phone calls before that, the BBC reported.

READ: AstraZeneca says COVID-19 vaccine shows 100% efficacy against severe disease, hospitalisation with no safety concerns

The Commission is looking to prevent jabs made on the continent to be delivered abroad while the UK is requesting batches produced at the Halix plant in the Netherlands.

However, AstraZeneca has not applied for EU approval on vaccines produces in Halix, so without the regulatory green light they couldn’t be distributed. It is understood the company will soon issue a request.

The Commission said it is not seeking to ban exports but it wants pharma companies to meet their obligations.

“In that context, the president has said that, of course, we see that, actually, companies that manufacture doses in the EU have been exporting very widely – which is in itself a good thing – but that we want to see reciprocity and proportionality in these exports,” a spokesperson told the BBC.

The FTSE 100 pharma giant previously admitted it would supply 30mln doses to the EU instead of the promised 80mln in the first quarter of 2020, and only 70mln instead of the agreed 180mln in the following three months because of supply disruption.

“The UK is not to blame. The EU is not to blame,” an EU official told Reuters. “It’s about everyone finding agreement with a company that has been over-selling its production capacity. AstraZeneca has to deliver doses to its EU customers.”

The EU didn’t negotiate a ‘Europe first’ clause on its purchasing agreements, unlike the UK or the US.

So jabs produced on UK or US territory, by contract, are meant to be distributed locally instead of being exported outside of the country.

Data suggests that if the deliveries are blocked, the UK could face a two-month delay in its vaccine rollout, which would then hit plans to reopen the economy.

However, the EU would only speed up its programme by a week, according to a research by Airfinity commissioned by The Guardian.

As of March 20, 44 out of 100 people in the UK had received a COVID-19 shot, compared to only 13 in Europe, as seen on the Our World In Data website.

Earlier on Monday, the firm announced the inoculation showed 100% efficacy against severe or critical disease and hospitalisation in late-stage trials.

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