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AstraZeneca defends slow supplies to the EU but says it ordered three months later than the U.K.

AstraZeneca defends slow supplies to the EU

January 27, 2021: CEO of AstraZeneca, Pascal Soriot, has defended its delayed rollout of the coronavirus vaccine to the EU. He noted that the EU had ordered three months later than the U.K., which meant it was backward in dealing with the issues.

The EU reacted toughly to AstraZeneca’s supply delay of coronavirus vaccine, which had to be approved by the European medicines regulator by the weekend, to the bloc.

The 27-member bloc was expecting around 80 million doses of the jab by the March-end but will receive only about 31 million doses from now. As member states were struggling to get vaccine supplies and rollout jabs, the EU has said it limited EU made exports of Covid-19 vaccines.

Soriot, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, said that various production issues caused delays in its coronavirus vaccine supply.

“We believe we’ve sorted out those issues, but we are two months behind where we wanted to be,” Soriot said.

The British-Swedish drug maker had also experienced “teething issues like this in the U.K. supply chain,” Soriot noted. Still, as the U.K. contract was signed three months before the European vaccine deal, the company “had an extra three months to fix all the glitches we experienced.”

However, Soriot said AstraZeneca still planned on delivering a good bulk of the vaccines promised to the EU in February.

Soriot said that as the vaccine is approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), they will ship around 3 million doses immediately to Europe. Another shipment about a week later than the third or fourth week of February. The target is for 17 million doses by February.”

 AstraZeneca and the EU spoke on Monday, after which the EU’s Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said that discussions resulted in dissatisfaction and insufficient explanations.”

Some countries, like Italy, have threatened legal action against AstraZeneca for the delay. Others have asked the reason behind the U.K., which is heavily reliant on the AstraZeneca jab in its vaccination rollout, had not experienced a shortage in the supplies yet.

It has vaccinated above 6.8 million people, with the first dose of the two-dose vaccine.

Soriot said that the U.K. production plant was more productive and insisted there was no anti-EU context.

“We’re not doing it on purpose. I’m European, and I have Europe at heart. Our chairman is Swedish, is European. Our CFO is European. Many people in the management are European. So, we want to treat Europe as best we can,” said Soriot.

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