Why is AstraZeneca pulling out of a meeting with the EU?

The British pharmaceutical AstraZeneca, accused in Europe of delays in the delivery of its vaccine against Covid-19, withdrew, this Wednesday, January 27, from a meeting organized by the European Union (EU), after Brussels vigorously “contested” the justifications British laboratory advances.

And for good reason, before the EU regulatory green light For this vaccine scheduled for Friday, January 29, AstraZeneca announced last week that deliveries would be lower than expected in the first quarter due to a “drop in performance” at a European manufacturing site.

Therefore, the group was summoned twiceOn Monday, January 25, to explain to the Member States and the European Commission, that it is negotiating on behalf of the 27. Their justifications were deemed “unsatisfactory” so another meeting was scheduled for Wednesday.

But AstraZeneca “withdrew” from the meeting, a senior European official told AFP. Brussels, which challenges the explanations provided by the group’s CEO, Pascal Soriot, in an interview with several European newspapers on Tuesday, denies the principle of reserving the production of British factories to the United Kingdom.

AstraZeneca denies contractual commitment with the EU

“The agreement with the United Kingdom was concluded in June (2020), three months before the European agreement (…) London has stipulated that sourcing the UK supply chain i would go to uk first”Declared Pascal Soriot in this interview with several European newspapers.

In the pre-order contract concluded by the EU in August, for up to 400 million doses AstraZeneca / Oxford Vaccine “, it is mentioned that UK manufacturing sites an option for Europe, but only later, ”says the Frenchman.

In a passage published by the Italian newspaper the Republic, Pascal Soriot insists: “We are in no way committed to the EU (…) It is not a contractual commitment. We said: we will do our best, but there is no guarantee of success. ” The EU wanted more or less as many doses as UK while they signed three months later. So we said: we will do our best, but we will not contractually“He observes.

Brussels reaction

There was no shortage of statements from the CEO of the British pharmaceutical company to make Brussels react: “We have problems with many elements of this interview, including the idea that production from UK factories is restricted to deliveries to the UK only. This is not correct“a senior EU official told AFP.

“On the idea of ​​’doing the best’: the contract provides for the existence of additional production capacities. So if there is a problem in a factory in Belgium, noWe can use the capacities of other factories in Europe or the UK ”, he insists.

For Pascal Soriot, the “performance” difficulties encountered at his European factory can be explained by the lag compared to the UK: the group partners had to “learn” the production process. “They were not as efficient as the others (…) It’s really bad luck. Nothing mysterious about it“he simply underlined.

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