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Taoiseach demands meeting with AstraZeneca CEO as HSE boss claims confidence ‘rocked’ over delivery delays

Taoiseach demands meeting with AstraZeneca CEO as HSE boss claims confidence ‘rocked’ over delivery delays

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TAOISEACH Micheal Martin has demanded a meeting with the CEO of AstraZeneca next week to find out why the vaccine producer is failing Ireland on deliveries but can keep up supply to the UK and US.

The Health Minister, Tanaiste, and head of the HSE today blasted AstraZeneca for repeatedly letting down Ireland by failing to deliver on its jabs contract.

Taoiseach demands meeting with AstraZeneca CEO as HSE boss claims confidence ‘rocked’ over delivery delays
Taoiseach Micheal Martin has written to AstraZeneca seeking a meeting with CEO Pascal Soriot
PA: Press Association
Taoiseach demands meeting with AstraZeneca CEO as HSE boss claims confidence ‘rocked’ over delivery delays
HSE CEO, Paul Reid says the AstraZeneca delays has rocked the health service’s confidence in the drug company
PA: Press Association
Taoiseach demands meeting with AstraZeneca CEO as HSE boss claims confidence ‘rocked’ over delivery delays
AstraZeneca has repeatedly slashed dose deliveries to Ireland with just 24 hours notice
AFP or licensors

The HSE is expecting 377,000 doses from AstraZeneca over the first quarter but has been repeatedly let down at the last minute by drop-offs in delivery doses.

The drug giant changed their delivery schedule to Ireland three times in one week which left the HSE forced to repeatedly rip up jab plans.

HSE boss Paul Reid said the company was due to deliver 52,000 doses one week but AstraZeneca then called to say that the delivery would only be 26,000 before calling again with just 24 hours notice to say Ireland would only be getting 10,000 doses.

‘FAIRLY ROCKED’

Mr. Reid said the HSE’s confidence in AstraZeneca has been “fairly rocked” by the delivery chaos as he claimed Ireland’s vaccine campaign was being severely impacted.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin has written to AstraZeneca demanding a meeting with CEO Pascal Soriot next week to thrash out Ireland’s vaccine issues.

A spokesperson for the Taoiseach told the Irish Sun the meeting was being set up by the IDA and will focus on production and supply issues.

The Irish Sun contacted AstraZeneca to confirm that the meeting would take place but we received no reply to our queries.

The Government doesn’t find it satisfactory and the EU doesn’t either.”


Tanaiste Leo Varadkar

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar today questioned why AstraZeneca can continue to honor its deliveries to the UK but keeps failing the EU.

Speaking in the Dail, he said: “I am seeking explanations too. I can understand how AstraZeneca might run into problems with supply or manufacturing or quality control but I do not understand how this big successful company can honor its contracts to the U.S. and the UK but for some reason not honor its contractual commitments to the EU.

“So far the answers I have been given are not satisfactory. The Government doesn’t find it satisfactory and the EU doesn’t either.”

Labour leader Alan Kelly said the EU negotiators need to do more than just “talk very strongly” to AstraZeneca to fix the supply issues.

He said: “The EU has exported 34 million doses of vaccines to other countries. Nine million to the UK for instance.

“While the UK and the U.S., in essence, are not allowing any exports but yet the EU is allowing exports to those countries.

“I’m asking you on behalf of our country to say that how the EU is dealing with vaccines needs to be recalibrated. It needs to be more ambitious and it certainly needs to be more clinical.

“We need a summit on vaccines. I think our Government should demand it.”

‘DEEPLY FRUSTRATING’

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said AstraZeneca has been “deeply frustrating” to deal with for Ireland’s vaccine task force.

He said: “On the reliability of supply Moderna and Pfizer have proven so far to be performing well. AstraZeneca is not performing well.

“It is repeatedly changing its delivery schedules, often at the last minute, and revising down the volumes it had agreed to deliver.

“This is happening right across Europe. It is deeply frustrating for everybody with so many people looking to get vaccinated.”

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar also revealed that €100 million has been offered in State aid to drug companies in Ireland to revamp their factories to start making vaccines – but the offer has not been taken up.

A spokesperson for Pfizer told the Irish Sun that they started ramping up their four facilities that produce vaccines last summer and claimed the manufacturing process is extremely complex.

They said some 280 materials are used to make the jabs from 86 suppliers across 19 different countries.

Ireland has administered 536,617 vaccines so far with between 75,000 and 85,000 doses to be given out next week to people over the age of 80, those with underlying health conditions, and healthcare workers.

Earlier today, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly revealed that 99 percent of people over the age of 85 have been vaccinated.