AstraZeneca’s CEO on Tuesday insisted the company would not sell vaccines ordered by the European Union to other countries at a profit after late orders sparked anger among EU leaders.
The Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company admitted last week that it would not meet its contractual delivery obligations to the EU due to “reduced revenues” in its European supply chain.
This prompted EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides to announce that the EU plans to track vaccine shipments exported to third countries – a sign of growing distrust.
“The European Union would like to know exactly which cans from AstraZeneca have been produced where and whether or to whom they have been delivered,” she said on Monday.
Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca, attempted to calm the situation Tuesday, admitting that repeated stumbling blocks in introducing vaccines have made European governments “aggravated or emotional”.
“Our team is working around the clock to fix the problems in making the vaccine itself,” he told the European LENA newspaper alliance.
He emphasized: “We are certainly not taking vaccines away from Europeans in order to sell them elsewhere for a profit.”
The company, which has partnered with Oxford University to develop its vaccine, has pledged not to make a profit from selling the sting during the pandemic.
The company is working with Oxford to develop a vaccine that specifically targets a more infectious South African strain of Covid-19, Soriot said.
Britain “had time to fix disruptions”
AstraZeneca’s problems in Europe came a week after US corporation Pfizer announced that it would also reduce the volume of early delivery of its vaccine made with German company BioNTech.
These two announcements risked ending EU vaccination programs while putting pressure on the European Commission, which negotiated vaccination orders on behalf of all 27 member states.
Soriot noted that the recently deceased EU member UK, which on Tuesday said it was confident of receiving all vaccine doses, had started rollout three months earlier.
“With the UK, we had an extra three months to fix any malfunctions,” he said.
Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine is still awaiting regulatory approval in the EU. A decision by the European Medicines Agency is planned for Friday.
The company announced last year that it had agreed with the European Commission to deliver up to 400 million cans to the EU.
“As soon as we get approval from EMA, we will be shipping at least three million cans to Europe immediately in the next few days,” said Soriot.
“The goal is to dispense 17 million cans by February.”
Europe is well on the way to receiving 17 percent of AstraZeneca’s global production in February, “for a population that is 5 percent of the world‘s population,” he noted.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is cheaper than the one made by competitors such as Moderna and Pfizer, and it is also easier to store because it does not need to be stored at extremely low temperatures.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)