AstraZeneca has unveiled plans to build a new Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing facility in partnership with IDT Biologika at the German firm’s Dessau site, in a move aiming to speed up production and defuse a row with the EU over supplies.

IDT Biologika, one of AstraZeneca’s manufacturing partners, provides glass vials and injects the liquid vaccine – which is made at other European sites – into the vials, before capping and boxing them.

The two companies said they were exploring options to speed up this process in the second quarter to help ramp up Europe’s vaccine rollout after a slow start to vaccination campaigns in EU countries amid supply shortages.

They also plan to build up to five 2,000-litre bioreactors capable of making tens of millions of doses a month of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine. However, the new facility will not be up and running until the end of next year.

The factory could also manufacture other vaccines that have a similar manufacturing process.

Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca’s chief executive, said: “This agreement will greatly help Europe build an independent vaccine manufacturing capability that will allow it to meet the challenges of the current pandemic and create strategic supply capacity for the future.”

The announcement came after European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, told MEPs that the EU was not where it wanted to be with its immunisation programme. Her remarks followed mounting criticism of the bloc’s slow deployment of the jabs.

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The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker also revealed that it had begun delivering millions of doses of the vaccine it developed with University of Oxford to EU countries last Friday, as part of the initial 17m that are due to be delivered over the new few weeks, with more planned in March.

Last month, the EU threatened to block exports of coronavirus vaccines to countries outside the bloc such as Britain after AstraZeneca said it could only deliver less than half as many doses as planned in the first quarter of 2021 because of problems at one of its European factories. The company then rowed back and increased future supplies, as well as bringing deliveries forward by one week.


p class=”css-38z03z”>AstraZeneca received another boost on Wednesday as scientists advising the World Health Organization recommended the use of its vaccine in adults of all ages. There had been confusion over its effectiveness in people over 65.

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