The British-Swedish company AstraZeneca has requested approval from the European medicines agency EMA in The Hague for vaccine deliveries from the Halix company in Leiden. This has been announced by European Commissioner for Health Stella Kyriakides.
The factory in Leiden has already produced vaccines, but they have not yet been delivered because AstraZeneca had not yet applied for them. Until permission has been granted, the vaccines cannot be delivered and used. Kyriakides thinks it can come soon, so that the first deliveries may be made this month.
Why it took so long is still unclear. Earlier this month, the Financial Times wrote about “the mystery of the Dutch factory “, in other words, the riddle of the Dutch factory.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is produced within the European Union in the Netherlands and Belgium. There are also two production locations in the United Kingdom. The vaccines are bottled in Italy. AstraZeneca has so far been able to deliver far fewer doses of vaccine to the EU than agreed, which has led to a lot of mistrust.
The company itself points to production problems in the Belgian factory, but the European Commission suspects that the British are favored. While many Pfizer / BioNtech vaccines have gone to the United Kingdom from the EU, no vaccines are returning the other way around. Two production sites in the UK are included in the contract that the EU has concluded with AstraZeneca.
The one-way street has aroused resentment in Brussels and other European capitals, all the more so because the vaccination program in the UK is progressing much more smoothly than in mainland Europe. The EU is now the largest vaccine exporter in the world.
Halix, a biopharmaceutical company, said it began manufacturing vaccines for the European Union in December. The company can deliver about five million doses per month. Halix does not want to say exactly how many have already been produced.