AstraZeneca’s CEO insisted on Tuesday that the company was not selling vaccines requested by the European Union to other countries at a profit, after late orders angered EU leaders.
The British-Swedish pharmaceutical company admitted last week that it will not fulfill its contractual obligations to deliver to the European Union due to “low revenues” in the European supply chain.
This prompted European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides to announce that the European Union plans to start tracking shipments of vaccines exported to non-member countries. – A sign of growing distrust.
“The European Union wants to know exactly what doses have been produced by AstraZeneca so far, and whether or to whom it was delivered,” she said Monday.
AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Suriot sought to calm the situation on Tuesday, acknowledging that European governments were “worsening or emotional” due to repeated hurdles in launching vaccines.
“Our team is working 24/7 to fix many issues related to the production of the vaccine itself,” he told the Lena European newspaper alliance.
He emphasized: “We certainly do not take vaccines away from the Europeans to sell them elsewhere for profit.”
The company, which has teamed up with Oxford University to develop its vaccine, has pledged not to make a profit from vaccine sales during the pandemic.
Soriot said the company is working with Oxford to develop a vaccine that specifically targets a more contagious strain in South Africa than the Covid-19 virus.
The UK has time to fix the glitches
AstraZeneca’s European problems came a week after the US Pfizer Group announced that it would also cut early delivery quantities of its vaccine with German company BioNTech.
The two announcements risked ending vaccination programs in the European Union while putting pressure on the European Commission, which has taken on the task of negotiating vaccine requests on behalf of all 27 member states.
Soriot pointed out that Britain, a member of the European Union, had recently left – She said Tuesday that she was confident of receiving all the doses of vaccine – It started rolling out three months ago.
“So, we had an additional three months in the UK to fix all the holes we ran through,” he said.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is still awaiting regulatory approval in the European Union, with a decision from the European Medicines Agency on Friday.
The company said last year it had agreed with the European Commission to supply up to 400 million doses to the European Union.
“As soon as we get Emma’s approval, in the next few days, we will immediately ship at least three million doses to Europe,” said Soriot.
“The goal is to have 17 million doses delivered by February.”
He noted that Europe is on track to receive 17% of AstraZeneca’s global production in February, “for a population that makes up 5% of the world’s population”.
AstraZeneca vaccine is cheaper than the vaccine produced by competitors like Moderna and Pfizer, and it is also easier to store because it does not need to be kept at extremely low temperatures.