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AstraZeneca defends EU vaccine rollout plan

January 27, 2021 4:15 pm

The head of AstraZeneca has defended its rollout of the coronavirus vaccine in the EU, amid tension with member states over delays in supply.

Pascal Soriot told Italian newspaper La Repubblica that his team was working “24/7 to fix the very many issues of production of the vaccine”.

He said production was “basically two months behind where we wanted to be”.

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He also said the EU’s late decision to sign contracts had given limited time to sort out hiccups with supply.

Mr Soriot, chief executive of the UK-Swedish multinational, said a contract with the UK had been signed three months before the one with the EU, giving more time for glitches to be ironed out.

He told La Repubblica that problems in “scaling up” vaccine production were being experienced at two plants, one in the Netherlands and one in Belgium.

“It’s complicated, especially in the early phase where you have to really sort out all sorts of issues,” he said.

“We believe we’ve sorted out those issues, but we are basically two months behind where we wanted to be.”

He added: “We’ve also had teething issues like this in the UK supply chain. But the UK contract was signed three months before the European vaccine deal. So with the UK we have had an extra three months to fix all the glitches we experienced.

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