Dutch facility gets go-ahead to produce more AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines
The European Medicines Agency announced on Friday that the Halix manufacturing site located in Leiden was approved to produce the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. The EMA said it was the fourth facility licensed to produce the active substance used in the vaccine.
The agency's human medicines committee also gave approval to produce the Comirnaty vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech at a facility in Marburg, Germany. That location will manufacture both the active substance used in the vaccine as well as the finished vials of doses ready for distribution. Last week, it gave the green light for the Lonza site in Visp, Switzerland to increase the number of doses produced by Moderna.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also stepped up her rhetoric to protect the interests of the European Economic Area by possibly blocking vaccines produced in Europe from being exported. "Just to be very clear, we want to make sure that Europe gets its fair share of vaccine," she said, reiterating that "reciprocity and proportionality" would be a criteria when deciding if vaccines will be exported from the EU outside of the scope of the COVAX program.
The Halix laboratory in Leiden has been a key part of the dispute between European Union officials and the United Kingdom. AstraZeneca has reportedly been pushing to shift vaccine doses made in Leiden to the UK to meet its obligations there, while saying it will likely be unable to meet 60 percent of its contractual commitment to Europe.
"We are at the start of a third wave in Europe," she said. "This highlights the importance of a fast and speedy vaccination."
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was not in favor of a ban on exports, instead preferring solutions through agreements and diplomacy. "It is important to keep the gun unloaded," he said.