CEO of AstraZeneca Pascal Soriot is confident the UK will hit its vaccine rollout targets, and has confirmed AZ will not reconsider its pre-agreed contract with the UK in the face of supply shortages in the EU.
Speaking to Italian news site Repubblica, Soriot said the UK will have succeeded in vaccinating 28 to 30 million people, adding: “The Prime Minister has a goal to vaccinate 15 million people by mid-February, and they’re already at 6.5 million, so they will get there.”
The CEO also gave a thumbs up for the one-dose strategy being used by the UK at the moment in order to offer more people protection from the coronavirus over a shorter period of time.
“I think the UK one-dose strategy is absolutely the right way to go, at least for our vaccine,” he continued. “Oxford University conducted the so-called Oxford trial in the UK and Brazil, and we have data for patients who received the vaccine in one-month intervals, two and three months intervals.
“First of all, we believe that the efficiency of one dose is sufficient: 100 per cent protection against severe disease and hospitalisation, and 71-73 per cent of efficiency overall. The second dose is needed for long-term protection. But you get better efficiency if you do the second dose later than earlier.
“We are going to do a study in the US and globally to use two-month dose interval to confirm that this is indeed the case.”
AstraZeneca will slash the supply of its Covid vaccine to the EU by 60 per cent in the first quarter of 2020.
The company was expected to deliver to the 27 EU countries around 80 million doses by the end of March, but will now only be able to deliver 31 million doses.
Speaking to Repubblica, Soriot said his team were working 24/7 to fix the production issues at the company.
He said: “Our total capacity globally now is about 100 million doses a month. From February onwards we are able to make 100 million doses a month, so that’s not small. Most vaccines have 100 million doses a year. So that already takes us on a 1.2 billion pace per year.
“We are ramping up production and Europe is getting 17 percent of this global production in February for a population that is 5 percent of the world population.
“We are in the ramp up phase and basically it will improve, but it takes time. Having said all of this, I’m not looking for excuses, honestly. We take accountability. We want to do better and we’re working day and night.”