AstraZeneca denies taking vaccines from EU to sell elsewhere
Wednesday, 27 January 2021
British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, which has been challenged in Europe over delays in deliveries of its Covid-19 vaccine, is “certainly not taking vaccines from Europeans to sell them elsewhere at a profit,” according to its CEO Pascal Soriot.
“That would make no sense,” Soriot said in an interview with Le Figaro published Tuesday, adding that the laboratory in partnership with Oxford University, has pledged not to make a profit on the sale of vaccines during the pandemic.
Brussels raised its voice on Monday against AstraZeneca, judging “unacceptable” the delays in the delivery of its Covid-19 vaccine, and now demands “transparency” on the export outside the EU of the doses produced there.
Soriot says there were also start-up problems in the UK supply chain, but “the UK contract was signed three months before the European contract. So, with the UK, we had another three months to solve the problems we encountered”.
While the EU regulatory approval for the vaccine is expected on Friday, the UK laboratory announced last week that deliveries would be lower than expected in the first quarter due to a reduced yield at a European manufacturing site.
This alarmed EU countries, already on edge after difficulties in delivering Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and increased pressure on the European Commission, which negotiated pre-order contracts on behalf of the EU-27.
The contracts cover up to 400 million doses of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, which has the advantage of being cheaper to produce than its rivals, as well as easier to store and transport.
“I think people in Europe are extremely stressed and tired from this year-long pandemic. Governments are under pressure,” Soriot said in the interview, adding that Europe, “which represents 5% of the world’s population, will get 17% of our production in February.