Brussels, Jan 27 : Amid bitter row over supplies of its Covid-19 vaccines to the European Union, AstraZeneca has reportedly denied a EU official’s assertion that it had pulled out of talks to discuss Covid-19 vaccine supplies.
The drugmaker said it still planned to meet with EU officials in Brussels.
“AstraZeneca is committed to delivering billions of doses of its Covid-19 vaccine across the globe — just nine months since the company first partnered with the University of Oxford to develop and manufacture a safe and effective vaccine that we could supply in a broad, equitable, and timely way at no profit during the pandemic,” the pharmaceutical group said in a statement.
“This includes an agreement with the European Commission to supply up to 400 million doses, starting in early 2021 should we receive regulatory approval from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), with tens of millions of doses due to be supplied in February and March,” it added.
The comments came after EU officials said the company had informed the bloc that it would not take part in a meeting to discuss delayed vaccine commitments.
“The representative of AstraZeneca had announced this morning, had informed us this morning, that their participation is not confirmed, is not happening,” Dana Spinant was quoted by The Washington Post as saying on Wednesday.
The latest disagreement between the two sides came after AstraZeneca rejected the EU’s accusation that the company had failed to honour its commitments to deliver Covid-19 vaccines.
AstraZeneca said the figures in its contract with the EU were targets that could not be met because of problems in rapidly expanding production capacity.
“We understand and share in the frustration that initial supply volumes of our vaccine delivered to the European Union will be lower than forecast. This is mainly due to lower than anticipated production yield impacting the number of doses produced per batch,” the company said.
“We continue to work with our supply partners to optimise this process to ensure the vaccine is produced at the scale and pace required, while retaining the highest quality standards,” it added.
In an interview with newspapers on Tuesday, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said the EU contract was based on a best-effort clause and did not commit the company to a specific timetable for deliveries.
The Commission official said that the company did indeed have a best effort agreement on deliveries, but it signed an advance purchasing agreement that included the obligation that the company have the manufacturing capacity to deliver the doses, the Politico reported on Wednesday.
Soriot also denied allegations that the company had been selling its vaccines beyond the EU to make a quick buck.
The CEO said the company was not making a profit on the vaccine anywhere, with prices ranging between $3 and $4 a dose globally, dependent upon local supply chain costs.