AstraZeneca applies for approval for vaccine delivery from Leiden
British-Swedish pharmaceutical AstraZeneca applied for approval from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to deliver coronavirus vaccines produced by the Halix company in Leiden, European Commissioner for Health Stella Kyriakides said. She expects that approval will happen soon and deliveries from the Leiden factory can start this month, NOS reports.
The Leiden factory already produced vaccines, but they can't be delivered because AstraZeneca doesn't have EMA approval for this yet. Why it took the pharmaceutical so long to apply for this approval is unclear. Earlier this month, the Financial Times called it "the mystery of the Dutch factory".
Halix told NOS that it started manufacturing vaccines for the European Union in December. The company can deliver about 5 million doses per month. Halix did not want to say how many vaccines it already produced.
AstraZeneca has two vaccine production sites in the European Union - the one in Leiden and one in Belgium. It also has two production sites in the United Kingdom. The vaccines are bottled in Italy.
The British-Swedish company recently said that it would only be able to deliver some 40 percent of the vaccine doses it promised the EU in the second quarter of 2021. AstraZeneca blamed this on production problems in the Belgian factory, but the European Commission suspects that the company is favoring the UK.
Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines produced in the EU have been sent to the UK, but no vaccines are returning the other way around. The two AstraZeneca production sites in the UK do form part of the contract the EU has with the pharmaceutical. This one-way street has aroused resentment in the EU, especially because the UK is so much further along in getting its population vaccinated. The EU is also the largest vaccine exporter in the world, according to the broadcaster.