Astra Chief’s Response to EU’s Vaccine-Delay Claims: Main Points

AstraZeneca Plc said it’s not backsliding on any vaccine-delivery commitments to the European Union, setting the stage for showdown with the bloc over a crunch call later on Wednesday.

In a newspaper interview, Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot delivered a public rebuttal to the EU’s allegations. The comments could change public perception about the bloc’s handling of vaccine contracts and inflict further damage on the image of European governments, already tainted by a failure to tame the coronavirus pandemic.

This is a summary of Soriot’s comments, as cited in English, during an interview with Italy’s la Repubblica newspaper:

  • Responding to EU claims that the company is backtracking on its contractual commitments to deliver a specific number of vaccines, Soriot said there’s no such commitment.
    • “I can only tell you what’s in their contract. And the contract is very clear. Our commitment is, and I quote, ‘our best effort’.”
    • “The suggestion that we sell to other countries to make more money is not right because we make no profit” on the vaccine.
    • “Europe is getting 17% of our global supply for a month for 5% of the world population. The problem is: 100 million doses is a lot; but we have 7.5 billion people in the world.”
    • “Europe at the time wanted to be supplied more or less at the same time as the U.K., even though the contract was signed three months later.”
    • “In the EU agreement, it’s mentioned that the manufacturing sites in the U.K. were an option for Europe, but only later.”
    • “The U.K. government said the vaccines coming out of the U.K. supply chain would go to the U.K. first,” he said. “This vaccine was developed with the U.K. government, Oxford and with us as well. As soon as we can, we’ll help the EU.
    • “The efficacy in that group — I don’t remember the precise number — it´s comparable to what you had in younger people.”
    • “We believe that the efficacy of one dose is sufficient: 100% protection against severe disease and hospitalization, and 71-73% of efficacy overall. The second dose is needed for long-term protection.”
    • “You know, if we deliver in February what we are planning to deliver, it’s not a small volume.”

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