Coronavirus live news: WHO says global deaths down 20% since last week; cases declining for six stra …

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AstraZeneca Plc has told the European Union it expects to deliver less than half the Covid vaccines it was contracted to supply in the second quarter, an EU official told Reuters on Tuesday.

Contacted by Reuters, AstraZeneca did not deny what the official said, but a statement late in the day said the company was striving to increase productivity to deliver the promised 180 million doses.

The expected shortfall, which has not previously been reported, follows a big reduction in supplies in the first quarter and could hit the EU’s ability to meet its target of vaccinating 70% of adults by summer.

The EU official, who is directly involved in talks with the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker, said the company had told the bloc during internal meetings that it “would deliver less than 90 million doses in the second quarter.”

AstraZeneca’s contract with the EU, which was leaked last week, showed the company had committed to delivering 180 million doses to the 27-nation bloc in the second quarter.

The failure of successive governments to enact part of the Equality Act, which would have imposed a duty to address socio-economic disadvantage, has exacerbated inequalities in England during the coronavirus pandemic, a thinktank has claimed.

The Runnymede Trust’s report, Facts Don’t Lie, says that the public sector duty provision would have imposed a legal obligation on education authorities in England to ensure working class children on free school meals were fed properly while schools were shut and had access to laptops for remote learning…

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