Covid-19 manufacturing roundup: AstraZeneca denies stockpiling claims; Virchow Biotech to make Sputnik V vaccine in India — Reuters
AstraZeneca has denied claims that it is stockpiling doses of its Covid-19 vaccine at its Anagni plant in Italy.
Italian police officers discovered 29 million doses of the vaccine over the weekend, according to The New York Times.
“There are no exports currently planned other than to COVAX countries,” the company said in a statement. “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 of the European Union and brought to Anagni to be filled into vials, the statement said. There are plans to release 10 million doses in EU countries during the last week of March, and the rest to be delivered in April.
“It is incorrect to describe this as a stockpile,” the statement said. “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.”
As bloc limits Covid-19 exports, EU and UK look to end vaccine battle
Europe and the UK are working toward defusing a fight over vaccine supplies following an EU plan making it easy to block exports, a recent statement said.
The two sides are working to expand deliveries to increase supply for all of its citizens, a statement said.
“In the end, openness and global cooperation of all countries will be key to finally overcome this pandemic and ensure better preparation for meeting future challenges,” the statement said.
Johnson & Johnson gains approval to produce Covid-19 vaccine in US
Catalent has been approved to produce Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine in its Bloomington, Indiana, facility, according to Reuters.
The FDA authorized the vaccine in February, but only for production in the Netherlands and a small fill-and-finish plant in the US. The company had promised to deliver 20 million shots by the end of March.
Virchow Biotech to make Sputnik V vaccine in India
India’s Virchow Biotech has reached an agreement with Russia’s RDIF sovereign wealth fund to produce up to 200 million doses a year of the Sputnik V vaccine, Reuters reports.
The largest drug manufacturing country in the world, similar production contracts have also been announced with Indian companies Gland Pharma, Stelis Biopharma and Hetero.
Stelis will produce 200 million doses for 100 million people, and Gland will produce 252 million doses for 126 million people, according to the RDIF.
In August, Russia became the first company to approve a Covid-19 vaccine with the announcement of Sputnik V. Scientists from other countries criticized the approval, however, as it was done without a Phase III trial.
Drug regulators in India asked developers for more data in February, when Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd requested emergency-use approval.
Firms in Brazil, China and South Korea are also producing Sputnik V.
“India is a true Sputnik V production partner and vaccine manufacturing hub of many vaccine for the world,” said Suren Mkrtchyan, spokesperson for the RDIF.