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A warning from AstraZeneca that initial supplies of its COVID vaccinations to Europe will be lower than expected has sparked fresh concern over the rollout of inoculations, forcing some countries to plan for a sharp drop in deliveries.

Friday’s announcement by the British pharmaceutical firm followed another last week by Pfizer, which said it would delay shipments of its vaccine for up to a month due to works at its key plant in Belgium.

The companies’ warnings come amid deepening concern over new COVID-19 variants, particularly one that emerged in Britain and which is believed to