AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot interviewed on supply to the European Union


Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer of AstraZeneca.

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AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot has defended its delayed rollout of the coronavirus vaccine to the EU, stating that drugmakers are “working 24/7” to fix production issues. But he also said that the European Union placed the order three months later than the UK, but meant it was behind in dealing with supply issues.

The European Union has reacted angrily to AstraZeneca’s delay in the vaccine’s supply of the coronavirus virus, which is expected to be approved by the European Medicines Regulator by the end of the week.

The 27-member block was expecting about 80 million doses of the jab by the end of March, but will now reportedly receive only 31 million doses. As members say the supply and rollout of the vaccine struggles to reach jabs, the European Union has said it could limit exports of Kovid-19 vaccines made in the European Union.

Speaking to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Soriot said that the delay in its supply of coronavirus vaccine was caused by a variety of production issues.

“We believe we’ve settled those issues, but we’re basically two months behind where we wanted to be,” he said

The British-Swedish drugmaker also experienced “such early issues in the UK supply chain”, noted Soriot, but as the UK contract was signed three months before the European vaccine deal, the company had ” All had an additional three months to recover. The glits we experienced. “

However, he said that AstraZeneca still planned to have a good wholesale distribution of vaccines delivered to the European Union in February. “But, you know, if we deliver in February what we are planning to deliver, it is not a small quantity. We are planning to deliver millions of doses in Europe, it is not small,” he said. Told the newspaper.

A Brazilian doctor voluntarily received an injection in July 2020 as part of phase 3 trials of a vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and the British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

Nelson Alameda | AFP | Getty Images

Asked what amount the European Union can expect to receive, Soriot said that as soon as the vaccine is approved by the European Medicinal Agency (EMA), “we will be shipping at least 3 million doses immediately to Europe We will then have another shipment, about a week later and then the third or fourth week of February. And the target is to deliver 17 million doses by February. “

“It’s not as good as we’d like it to be, but it’s not really so bad,” he said. Globally, Soriot said production capacity would be 100 million doses from February.

Anger in the European Union

There were talks on Monday between AstraZeneca and the EU, after which EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyrikides said the discussions were “dissatisfaction due to lack of clarity and inadequate explanations.”

The European Union has asked AstraZeneca to provide them with a detailed plan of vaccine delivery and when delivery will take place, with further discussions for Wednesday.

Some countries, including Italy, have threatened legal action against AstraZeneca for the delay. Others have asked why the UK, which relies too heavily on the AstraZeneca jab in its vaccination rollout, has sprayed further in its vaccination campaign and has not yet experienced supply shortages. It has immunized more than 6.8 million people with the first dose of at least a two-dose vaccine.

Soriot said that the UK’s production plant was more productive, and insisted that there was no conflicting reference to the European Union.

“First of all, we have different plants and they have different yields and different productivity. One of the highest yielding plants has been in the UK since it first started. It also had its own issues, but we had those All sorted, this is good productivity, but this is the UK plant since it first started. ”

“We’re not doing it on purpose. I’m European, I have Europe. Our president is Swedish, European. Our CFO is European. Many people in management are European. So we want Europe to be the best . We can do it.”

He said the drug maker had a “best-effort” type of agreement with the European Union, because it wanted to supply it to the UK at the same time, even if the vaccine was later requested. “We were not committed to the European Union, although this is not our commitment to Europe: it is a best effort.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson presents for a photograph with a vial of AstraZeneca / University of Oxford Kovid-196 vaccine.

Wpa pool | Getty Image News | Getty Images

Scaling-up and Production Issues

With a coronavirus vaccine developed, clinical trials were approved and approved in less than a year, Soriott said it was natural to experience glits in the scaling-up process.

“We are increasing the dose of millions, millions of vaccines at a very fast pace. A year ago, we did not have a vaccine. When you do this, you have glits, you have problems with scale-up,” he said. Said, two European plants had current problems with the production of the vaccine substance.

“For Europe, the intoxicant is essentially produced in two plants, one in the Netherlands, one in Belgium. The pharmaceutical product is actually manufactured in Italy and Germany. So from a pharmaceutical product point of view, we have full potential . We have zero problem. “What the current problems have to do with the manufacture of the drug,” he said.

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