AstraZeneca is ‘2 months behind’ on vaccine production - what it means for the UK

AstraZeneca is 'two months behind production; (Photo: YE AUNG THU/AFP via Getty Images)

Pascal Soriot, the head of AstraZeneca, has defended the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine within the EU, as tensions rise due to delays in the supply.

Speaking to Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Soriot said: “I think we will deliver up to Europe in the month of February a reasonable quantity actually, very similar to what others have delivered on a monthly basis.”

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He added that the delivery will be “less than expected”, and that that his team is working “24/7 to fix the very many issues of production of the vaccine”.

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

The AstraZeneca head explained that there had been similar problems with the UK, but due to the fact that the UK contract had been signed earlier than the EU contract, there had been more time to address any problems.

He said: “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 had had an extra three months to fix all the glitches we have experienced.”

Where does the UK vaccine supply stand?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that he has “total confidence” in the UK’s supply of vaccines, following threats from the EU to block the export of vaccines.

During a Downing Street press conference, Johnson said that the delivery of vaccines is a “multinational effort”, and that the UK would continue to work with its European partners.

A spokesperson for the UK government remained confident that the AstraZeneca jab, which is largely being made in Oxfordshire and Staffordshire, will meet its first targets.

They said: “We remain in close contact with all of our vaccine suppliers.

“Our vaccine supply and scheduled deliveries will fully support offering the first dose to all four priority groups by February 15.”

Additionally, Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi said he was “confident” that the Pfizer supply, manufactured in Belgium, would continue.

Asked whether the EU could stop Pfizer vaccines leaving its borders, Zahwai told Sky News: “No, I’m confident that the Pfizer vaccine will be delivered.

“Pfizer have made sure that they have always delivered for us, they will continue to do so.

“They have made a very important announcement on the equitable supply of the whole world, including the European Union, and I’m sure they will deliver for the European Union, the United Kingdom and the rest of the world.

“We have got 367 million vaccines that we have ordered from seven different suppliers, so I’m confident we will meet our target and continue to vaccinate the whole of the adult population by the autumn.”

What vaccines has the UK ordered?

The UK has ordered a varying number of vaccines from a variety of suppliers.

It has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which is enough to vaccinate 20 million people as each person requires two jabs.

A total of 100 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca have also been ordered, which is enough for 50 million people as, again, each person requires two jabs.

It has ordered 17 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, which has been approved for use in the UK, but won’t be available until spring.

Other vaccines that the UK has ordered that have not yet been approved for use include 30 million doses of Janssen, 60 million doses of Novavax, 60 million doses of Valneva and 60 million doses of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)/Sanofi Pasteur.