THE HAGUE — AstraZeneca subcontractor Halix has not sent any Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine doses to the U.K. after the EU implemented export controls, Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said Wednesday.
In January, the Commission introduced new export controls requiring companies to get authorization from national authorities to export vaccines outside the bloc.
Since then, “everything has stayed in the EU,” Breton said, adding that AstraZeneca hasn’t requested to send vaccines abroad since the authorization scheme.
Breton made those comments in The Hague after visiting the drugmaker’s Dutch Halix site to make sure companies “deliver what is promised.” He said he was “impressed” with the yield from the Dutch producer, which can make between 5 million and 6 million doses a month, with “a significant part” for the EU.
It was the latest stop in Breton’s tour of production sites, less than a month after being tapped by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to boost the continent’s sluggish vaccine production. He’ll visit Italy on Thursday, followed by Hungary and Austria on Friday, the latter two of which have have been increasingly critical of the EU’s vaccination strategy.
The Dutch site has been a source confusion in the puzzle over why AstraZeneca fell more than 60 million doses short of its pledged EU delivery in the first quarter. The EU has largely blamed AstraZeneca, saying it sent those vaccines to the U.K.
Some confusion remains over whether the plant is actually producing doses for the EU. It hasn’t been approved to make drug substance in the EU, according to the company’s conditional marketing authorization from the EMA, updated most recently on February 18.
Officials with knowledge of the U.K.-AstraZeneca contract say Halix has long been part of the U.K. supply chain, and note that it agreed last April to make the vaccine with the University of Oxford. It later announced another deal with AstraZeneca in December. Furthermore, the British government sent a team to the plant in November to help boost manufacturing there, Kate Bingham, the former chair of the U.K. vaccine task force, told European media in February.