The EU is increasingly concerned that vaccine supplies are leaving the bloc to go to other countries, in particular the UK. A batch of 29 million AstraZeneca doses at the Anagni plant near Rome has come under scrutiny this week. On Saturday, the EU Commission went as far as to ask Italy to inspect AstraZeneca vaccine batches at the Anagni plant near Rome; which were consequently carried out by Italian police and found to be destined for Belgium.
In a statement published yesterday, AstraZeneca sets out to ‘clarify a number of inaccurate statements’ about the doses at the plant.
“There are no exports currently planned other than to COVAX countries,” it says.
“There are 13 million doses of vaccine waiting for quality control release to be dispatched to COVAX as part of the Company’s commitment to supply millions of doses to low-income countries.
"The vaccine was made outside the European Union (EU) and brought to the Anagni plant to be filled into vials.
"The EU fully supports supplying low-and middle-income countries through the COVAX facility.
“There are another 16 million doses waiting for quality control release to be dispatched to Europe. Approximately 10 million doses will be delivered to EU countries during the last week of March, and the balance to be delivered in April as the doses are approved for release after quality control.
“It is incorrect to describe this as a stockpile. The process of manufacturing vaccines is very complex and time consuming. In particular, vaccine doses must wait for quality control clearance after the filling of vials is completed.”