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Director of AstraZeneca, Pascal Soriot, visits the laboratory of the AstraZeneca manufacturing unit on January 20. Raphael Lafargue/SIPA/Shutterstock

AstraZeneca’s chief government Pascal Soriot has defended the pharmaceutical big’s resolution to prioritize vaccine deliveries to the United Kingdom, after the European Union voiced rising frustration over supply delays.

“The UK agreement was reached in June, three months before the European one. As you could imagine, the UK government said the supply coming out of the UK supply chain would go to the UK first,” Soriot informed Italian newspaper la Repubblica on Tuesday.
“The contract with the UK was signed first and the UK, of course, said ‘you supply us first,’ and this is fair enough. This vaccine was developed with the UK government, Oxford and with us as well,” he added. 

Earlier on Monday, EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides expressed dissatisfaction on talks with AstraZeneca, saying that the drugmaker “intends to supply considerably fewer doses in the coming weeks than agreed and announced” resulting from manufacturing issues.  

Speaking to la Repubblica, Soriot conceded that the corporate needed to scale back provide to the EU because of diminished yields early within the manufacturing course of at one web site in Europe.

“It’s complicated, especially in the early phase where you have to really kind of sort out all sorts of issues. We believe we’ve sorted out those issues, but we are basically two months behind where we wanted to be,” Soriot mentioned. 

He added that additionally they confronted “teething issues” with the UK provide chain — however they’d a “head start” since they signed the contract earlier, and had more time to “fix all the glitches.”

European delays: So far, the EU has ordered 300 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine — which might be accepted to be used by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) as quickly as this week — with an choice to buy a further 100 million doses. 

With manufacturing points centered round AstraZeneca’s European vegetation, Soriot mentioned the corporate might quickly have the ability to start utilizing its UK web site to assist Europe as soon as the UK has “reached a sufficient number of vaccinations.” 

“We’re moving very quickly, the supply in the UK is very rapid. The government is vaccinating 2.5 million people a week, about 500,000 a day, our vaccine supply is growing quickly,” he informed the Italian newspaper. “As soon as we can, we’ll help the EU,” he added.

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