Covid-19 roundup: AstraZeneca hits vaccine distribution snag in Thailand; China completes expert review of BioNTech's mRNA vaccine — report
AstraZeneca has reportedly run into more vaccine distribution problems, this time in Thailand.
The drugmaker has asked Thailand for a five-month extension of its timeline to deliver 61 million doses, according to a Reuters report. That would put the new deadline at May 2022. The news comes a day after Thailand announced it’s considering imposing limits on the export of locally produced doses of the vaccine.
“We must negotiate with them, because in this situation we need more vaccine,” Deputy Health Minister Sathit Pitutacha told MCOT television station, per Reuters.
Thailand isn’t the only one asking AstraZeneca where its vaccines are. The EU recently took the drugmaker to court, accusing it of a “flagrant violation” of its contract after it failed to deliver the number of doses it initially promised.
Last month, a Belgian court ruled that AstraZeneca must deliver a cumulative 80.2 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to the EC by Sept. 27 — a far cry from the 300 million doses the EC had originally requested. The company will be held to a binding schedule, according to the EC, with 15 million doses expected by July 26 at 9 a.m.; 20 million by Aug. 23; and 15 million by Sept. 27.
If AstraZeneca doesn’t meet its delivery deadlines, the company will have to pay a penalty of €10 per missing dose, according to the EC.
“This decision confirms the position of the Commission: AstraZeneca did not live up to the commitments it made in the contract,” president Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement. “It is good to see that an independent judge confirms this.”
However, AstraZeneca also claimed a win, and said the decision acknowledges that the “difficulties experienced by AstraZeneca in this unprecedented situation had a substantial impact on the delay.”
China completes expert review of BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine — report
China could soon have another Covid-19 shot for public use, as regulators have completed an expert review of the mRNA vaccine developed by BioNTech and Fosun Pharma, according to the Chinese media group Caixin.
The shot, which is now in the administration review stage, would be the country’s first vaccine developed overseas, Reuters reported.
The vaccine, BNT162b2, is the same one BioNTech tested in the US in partnership with Pfizer. Back in December, BioNTech inked an agreement with China’s Fosun Pharma for 100 million doses of the vaccine, though financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
The vaccine is expected to begin trial production in China at the end of August, Fosun Pharma chairman Wu Yifang said, per Caixin. The vaccine is planned to be used as a booster for those who have already received inactivated vaccines.
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