The European Union is planning to extend its export authorisation scheme for COVID-19 vaccines to the end of June, two EU sources told Reuters on Thursday, in a move that could reignite tensions with countries who rely on shots made in the EU.
The mechanism was set up at the end of January as a reaction to vaccine makers’ announcements of delays in the deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines to the EU.
It is due to expire at the end of March, but the European Commission wants to extend it through June, the two officials said.
When the EU’s export control mechanism was introduced in late January it triggered an outcry from importing countries who feared their vaccine supplies might have been hampered.
Under the scheme, companies must get an authorisation before exporting COVID-19 shots, and may have export requests denied if they do not respect their supply commitments with the EU.
Export requests mostly concern the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine which is manufactured in Belgium. AstraZeneca and Moderna shots have also been exported from the EU.