Pascal Soriot, chief executive officer of AstraZeneca.Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty ImagesAstraZeneca’s CEO Pascal Soriot has defended its delayed rollout of the coronavirus vaccine to the EU, saying the drugmaker is “working 24/7″ to fix production issues. As member states struggle to access vaccine supplies and rollout jabs, the EU has said it could limit exports of Covid-19 vaccines made in the EU.Speaking to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Soriot said that delays in the supply of its coronavirus vaccine were caused by a variety of production issues.”We believe we’ve sorted out those issues, but we are basically two months behind where we wanted to be,” he saidThe British-Swedish drugmaker had also experienced “teething issues like this in the U.K. supply chain,” Soriot noted, but as the U.K. contract was signed three months before the European vaccine deal, the company “had an extra three months to fix all the glitches we experienced.”However, he said AstraZeneca still planned on delivering a good bulk of the vaccines promised to the EU in February. […] We are planning to deliver millions of doses to Europe, it is not small,” he told the newspaper.A Brazilian doctor voluntarily receives an injection as part of phase 3 trials of a vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, in July 2020.Nelson Almeida | AFP | Getty ImagesAsked what amount the EU could expect to receive, Soriot said that as soon as the vaccine is approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), “we will be shipping at least 3 million doses immediately to Europe, then we’ll have another shipment about a week later and then the third or fourth week of February. And the target is to deliver 17 million doses by February.””It’s not as good as we would like to, but it’s really it’s not so bad,” he said. Globally, Soriot said production capacity would be 100 million doses from February onward.Anger in the EUTalks between AstraZeneca and the EU were held on Monday, after which the EU’s Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said that discussions had “resulted in dissatisfaction with the lack of clarity and insufficient explanations.”The EU has asked AstraZeneca to provide it with a detailed plan of vaccine deliveries and when distribution will take place, with further discussions set for Wednesday.Some countries, including Italy, have threatened legal action against AstraZeneca for the delay. […] It’s not a commitment we have to Europe: it’s a best effort.”UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson poses for a photograph with a vial of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University Covid-19 candidate vaccine.WPA Pool | Getty Images News | Getty ImagesScaling-up and production issuesWith a coronavirus vaccine developed, clinically trialed and approved in less than a year, Soriot said it was natural to experience glitches in the scaling-up process.”We are scaling up to hundreds of millions, billions of doses of vaccines at a very high speed.
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