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He said, however, that the investigation was continuing to ensure that the problems, described as a shortage of raw materials, were not a result of AstraZeneca allegedly favouring the UK’s order for 100m doses.

De Croo said: “AstraZeneca pointed to production issues at Seneffe. The federal medicines and health products agency has together with its European partners carried out checks at the site.

“It appears that there is a shortage of the raw materials needed to make the vaccines. The analysis of the situation there is still ongoing.

Love to know which raw materials. And what’s the hold up on them? Because allow it go go a level or two deeper and we end up back where home production just isn’t possible. Because at some level of detail the supply chain for anything and everything is the entire global economy.

22 thoughts on “Fascinating”

  1. Spoilers:

    It’s all the fault of Brexit.
    And entirely the Orange Man’s fault as well.
    Maybe Russia helped.

  2. Over the SARS-CoV2 period, what with the whole corona-bonds malarkey, and the vaccine, um, strategy, it does strike me that the member states have created two new de facto EU Competencies (not to imply actual competence, FWIW).

    How long before they’re incorporated into a directorate or two?

  3. “Initial volumes will be lower than originally anticipated due to reduced yields at a manufacturing site within our European supply chain.”

    That was AZ’s statement ten days ago. They also said the factory is undergoing “re-tooling”. No mention of raw materials.

  4. The idea that AZ might have been transferring doses made by its underperforming EU subcontractors to the UK through the ports that are snarled up by EU customs jobsworths is frankly ludicrous. Apart from the UK roll-out being limited by the availability of vaccinators more than vaccine. The government has just announced that it will give some spare doses to Ireland!
    The suggestion is an attempt by De Croo to gloss over the news that the investigation has (i) merely demonstrated that AZ was telling the truth (and why they do anything else) and (ii) marginally reduced production of vaccines for the EU by disrupting work to improve vaccine yields

  5. @ Lurker
    Not dumb – insane!
    Is there anyone in the EU Commission who would know what to do with any intellectual property they seized from Big Pharma (except sell it to Big Pharma for a backhander)?
    Does anyone believe that the EU could operate a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant?

  6. @AndrewM
    “ No mention of raw materials.”
    And you would buy on raw materials while the plant is down for retooling? Perhaps they deteriorate if held to long.

    Sounds like the regulators came in and said forget about the planned upgrade, just get on and make something, to which AZ replied that they have no raw materials scheduled because of the planned outage.

  7. Bloke in North Dorset


    Apart from the UK roll-out being limited by the availability of vaccinators more than vaccine.

    Is that right?

    We aren’t being told how much vaccine is being delivered but the ability to deliver seems to be able to flex quite well, on Saturday they delivered 600k doses, an increase of 20% on the previous highest day.

    Looking at they way the numbers fluctuate I’d hazard a guess that vaccination delivery is matching supply quite closely.

  8. “even as an inspection of a plant in Belgium confirmed the company’s claims of production problems.”

    What was a “raid” a few days ago is now an “inspection”, at least in the quisling Guardian.

  9. “Love to know which raw materials.”

    Most likely the actual RNA/DNA chains that need to go into the vaccine.

    Hard to say where the bottleneck is, but could easily be that the yield from the bacterial strains they use for amplification is less than expected at scale, or that yield of the cracking/purification steps is less than expected at scale, or….
    The actual chemicals/nutrients used are easily available in bulk, so won’t be that. But getting bacteria to grow after severly stressing them to get the bits of D/RNA in that you want can be…..challenging..

    Same goes for the methods that use modified virals. Only double, because you have to grow stuff twice

    This is biology, and getting stuff to work at scale in the timeframe involved is enough to make people go “you want what?!!! Bugg’roff!” under ordinary circumstances. And a bloody miracle as-is..

  10. “Does anyone believe that the EU could operate a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant?”

    The EU couldn’t operate a potted plant.

    Still who cares –Johnson’s Useless Lie Juice isn’t worth all the hot air anyway.

  11. This factory in Seneffe is just round the corner from where British Leyland had a plant in the seventies, making Austin Allegros. There is a metaphor here somewhere.

  12. “Because allow it go go a level or two deeper and we end up back where home production just isn’t possible. Because at some level of detail the supply chain for anything and everything is the entire global economy.”

    Thats just you Free Trade fanatics trying to wriggle out of the obvious lesson we are learning right now that controlling where stuff is made is important. Of course there will always be some input somewhere that comes from abroad and isn’t made ‘at home’, the trick is to make sure that the most important and least easily reproduced parts of the process at hand are under your control and haven’t been exported to Uzbekistan on the grounds that they can do it 10p per unit cheaper.

  13. @ BiND
    And on how many of the intervening days was the volume of vaccine produced lower than that on the previous “high” day?
    Why does the number vaccinated vary from day to day?
    Why does my friend who works for a GP end up exhausted on the days that they run a vaccination session and partially recover on other days? If there was an unlimited supply of vaccinators they would run clinics every day.
    Why cannot I get vaccinated in the next town as I did for my ‘flu vaccination? I’ve opted for the allegedly second-nearest of the available vaccination centres because I know I can walk there while the allegedly nearest involves either the towpath that we are told not to use or the alternative route along footpaths that are effectively impassable at present.
    I rest my case.

  14. Bloke in North Dorset


    I don’t know, that’s why I was asking. As I see it they’re getting lumpy supply, which is what we were told would happen.

    I’m open to both or other explanations.

  15. @ BiND
    Sorry, I thought it was a rhetorical question.
    It seems to me from looking at data that Saturdays get more doses used than other weekdays: this could be because more patients are available on Saturdays or because more vaccinators are available on Saturdays. Very few of us wrinklies are unable to attend Monday-Friday (yeah, a few depend on children/grandchildren for transport but taxis must be queueing up to volunteer help) so the most plausible answer is that there are more people administering doses.
    Vaccine production from AZ is a continuous process, not a batch, so there will be minor fluctuations but not 10%, let alone 20%, day-to-day. I don’t pretend to understand anything about how the BioNTech process works but AZ is supposed to be delivering the large majority of vaccine doses so the lumpiness of deliveries (while real) is not enough to explain all the lumpiness of daily jabs.
    BTW My wife threw a minor wobbly when I told her I had opted for the second-nearest town because I could walk there in about two hours (depends on the conditions) as my priority status is because I am “old” and presumed frail. She wants me to drive.

  16. Just noticed; WKPD:

    In 2015, researchers collaborating at the VroniPlag Wiki reviewed von der Leyen’s 1991 doctoral thesis and alleged that 43.5% of the thesis pages contained plagiarism, and in 23 cases citations were used that did not verify claims for which they were given. Multiple notable German academics such as Gerhard Dannemann and Volker Rieble publicly accused von der Leyen of intended plagiarism. The Hannover Medical School conducted an investigation and concluded in March 2016 that while the thesis contains plagiarism, no intention to deceive could be proven.
    The university decided not to revoke von der Leyen’s medical degree. Critics questioned the independence of the commission that reviewed the thesis as von der Leyen personally knew its director from joint work for an alumni association. Various media outlets also criticized that the decision was nontransparent, not according to established rules and failing to secure high academic standards.

  17. Bloke in North Dorset


    No problem, I should have been clearer, especially on a blog where commentators enjoy making snarky comments 🙂

    I did wonder about the supply of patients and I’ve seen a number of comments from people saying they were called and not their wives/husbands and as they were the driver they wondered why they couldn’t go together. I suppose its difficult for something this large to go in to that level of detail.

    We aren’t being told how many no shows or people not taking the offers and that could also account for some of the lumpiness.

    Still, not a bad effort so far, close to 10m doses given.

  18. @BiND
    I would be very surprised if there is any linkage between adult patients in NHS records

    So going through the government priority list with searches for someone in their 80s or 70s or whatever I doubt that you can search simultaneously for linked people that live at the same address (or may not)…

    …and that are also in the the priority list and also have a driving licence and a car on the road to enable attendance

    Down here in darkest Cornwall taxis and ubers are taking people to their jabs for free

    I guess people making these comments are assuming it’s GP surgeries doing the invitations and they should know of individual circumstances. In an ideal world maybe but my experience of gp surgeries is they are pretty useless at this sort of thing. Mailshots are pretty blunderbuss-like

  19. Bloke in North Dorset


    Indeed, but I’d be surprised if GP surgeries tied. I said something about my wife to my GP,I was being prescribed the same drug as her, and he said he couldn’t even acknowledge she was a patient at the practice.

    Patient confidentiality taken very seriously and quite rightly.

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