AstraZeneca: Coronavirus vaccine deliveries to EU reduced
'Initial volumes will be lower than originally anticipated due to reduced yields at a manufacturing site.'
LONDON — AstraZeneca on Friday said first deliveries of its COVID-19 vaccine to the European Union will be “lower than initially anticipated.”
The EU has yet to sign off on the vaccine, but could do so as early as Monday.
“While there is no scheduled delay to the start of shipments of our vaccine should we receive approval in Europe, initial volumes will be lower than originally anticipated due to reduced yields at a manufacturing site within our European supply chain,” an AstraZeneca spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
“We will be supplying tens of millions of doses in February and March to the European Union, as we continue to ramp up production volumes.”
The news no doubt caused great dismay to EU heads of state and government who met by videoconference on Thursday evening and voiced new urgency about accelerating the pace of vaccinations in Europe. Many leaders expressed fury at Pfizer about an expected delay in deliveries of its vaccine, manufactured in partnership with BioNTech.
A spokesperson for the European Commission said the company confirmed this during a meeting with member states Friday, noting “there would be a change of its delivery schedule.”
Stella Kyriakides, the EU health commissioner, tweeted that at a meeting Friday, the Commission and member states “expressed deep dissatisfaction” at the news.
The pharma company spokesperson declined to comment on the volume of the delivery shortfall, or which manufacturing plant is facing issues.
Stormy weather this week caused flooding around the North Wales plant where the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is manufactured. But a spokesperson for Wockhardt, which owns the facility, said in an emailed statement: “All necessary precautions were taken, meaning no disruption to manufacturing or inlet of water into buildings.”
The European Medicines Agency’s drugs committee will sit down Monday to begin a five-day meeting to consider licensing new therapies, including the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab. The EMA said earlier in the month that the decision would come by January 29.
The European Commission has drawn up a contract with AstraZeneca for 400 million doses of the vaccine.
If approved, it will be the third COVID-19 jab to be made available to EU citizens, after the BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
AstraZeneca is not the only pharma firm to face manufacturing issues. BioNTech/Pfizer said this week supplies have been reduced while it upgrades production facilities.
This article is part of POLITICO’s premium policy service: Pro Health Care. From drug pricing, EMA, vaccines, pharma and more, our specialized journalists keep you on top of the topics driving the health care policy agenda. Email for a complimentary trial.