News

HDA UK Media and Political Bulletin – 19 March 2021

Media Summary

EU threat to vaccine exports exposes mutual risks to global supply chain
Financial Times, FT Reporters, 18 March

The Financial Times reports that the EU’s threat to restrict the export of COVID-19 vaccines has exposed the mutual harm that countries could inflict on one another due to the interdependent nature of the global vaccine supply chain.

Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President, said on Wednesday that Brussels was considering “all options” to ensure Europeans were vaccinated as soon as possible. Her plans, which are likely to be discussed at an EU summit next week, could stop vaccine shipments to countries that did not show “reciprocity” to the EU by allowing supplies to reach the bloc.

Coronavirus vaccine supply chains are intrinsically global. US biotech Moderna produces vaccine ingredients in Switzerland, fills and finishes the doses in Spain and ships from there to all buyers outside the US. Pfizer similarly has all of its non-US production situated inside the bloc. EU facilities are understood to be dependent on imports for their vaccine production, including the lipid nanoparticles needed in mRNA vaccines and the plastic bags used in bioreactors.

For this reason, Jacob Kirkegaard, Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and the German Marshall Fund, says that protectionist measures would cause significant damage. The EU would be “taking a sledgehammer to something brittle”, risking retaliation and reputational damage for minimal gain, he added. “It’s an altogether bad political idea — and it fails to give Europe a material amount of extra vaccines now.”

Retesting 1.7m vaccines and Indian delay blamed for UK shortage
Financial Times, George Parker, Sarah Neville, Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe & Stephanie Findlay, 18 March

The Financial Times reports that Britain’s vaccine rollout has been knocked off course by the delayed arrival of vaccines from India and a need to check 1.7m doses to ensure their stability. At least 12m people will still receive a second COVID-19 vaccine dose in April but supply will be “tighter than this month” according to Matt Hancock

The Health Secretary confirmed in the House of Commons that there had been a delay to the “scheduled arrival from the Serum Institute of India” of Indian-made doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

The need to retest a batch of 1.7m doses would also constrain supplies, Hancock said, without providing further detail on the provenance of those vaccines or why they have to be checked. The need for such additional testing was “to be expected” from time to time and showed the “rigour” of UK vaccine safety processes, he added.

Hancock also warned the EU not to impose emergency controls on exports of vaccines — including the Belgium-made Pfizer jab — to Britain. “We fully expect those contracts to be honoured,” he said.

Moderna COVID vaccine expected to arrive in the UK in April, company says
The i, Paul Gallagher, 18 March

The i reports that Moderna is expected to start delivering its order of 17 million COVID vaccine doses to the UK in April, although it is unclear whether their arrival could solve the problem of the expected shortfall of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs next month.

The Government signed a deal with the US company last year and said at the time that it expected delivery to arrive in the Spring. Problems over the supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine led scientists to question why officials had yet to name a time when the Moderna doses would arrive, but the US company has said they will be sent from next month. A spokesman said: “Moderna expect to begin deliveries to the UK in April, within the spring delivery window previously communicated. Moderna is on track to meet quarterly contractual commitments.”

The UK Government signed a deal with Moderna for an initial 5 million doses before ordering another 2 million doses in November. It then ordered a further 10 million doses in January. Final clinical results found that the vaccine’s efficacy against COVID-19 was 94.1% and the vaccine’s efficacy against severe COVID-19 was 100%.

 

Parliamentary Coverage

House of Commons – Written Question, 17 March

Julian Sturdy (Conservative, York Outer): To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of writing off the repayment of advance funding extended to community pharmacy in 2020 to maintain services during the COVID-19 outbreak.

House of Commons – Written Question, 17 March

Julian Sturdy (Conservative, York Outer): To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of whether the performance of community pharmacy during the COVID-19 outbreak necessitates the creation of a new national pharmacy contract.

House of Commons – Written Question, 17 March

Julian Sturdy (Conservative, York Outer): To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of current funding arrangements for community pharmacy.

House of Commons – Written Question, 17 March

Alex Norris (Labour, Nottingham North): To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the COVID-19 outbreak on the cashflows of community pharmacies; what estimate he has made if the number of community pharmacies that (a) have closed in each of the last three financial years and (b) will close in the financial year 2021-22; and if he will make a statement.

Full Coverage

EU threat to vaccine exports exposes mutual risks to global supply chain
Financial Times, FT Reporters, 18 March

This article is subject to copyright terms and conditions. Please access here.

Retesting 1.7m vaccines and Indian delay blamed for UK shortage
Financial Times, George Parker, Sarah Neville, Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe & Stephanie Findlay, 18 March

This article is subject to copyright terms and conditions. Please access here.

Moderna Covid vaccine expected to arrive in the UK in April, company says
The i, Paul Gallagher, 18 March

Moderna is expected to start delivering its order of 17 million Covid vaccine doses to the UK in April although it is unclear whether their arrival could solve the problem of the expected shortfall of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs next month.

The Government signed a deal with the US company last year and said at the time that it expected delivery to arrive in the Spring. Problems over the supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine led scientists to question why officials had yet to name a time when the Moderna doses would arrive, but the US company has said they will be sent next from month. A spokesman said: “Moderna expect to begin deliveries to the UK in April, within the spring delivery window previously communicated. Moderna is on track to meet quarterly contractual commitments.”

Problems with a shipment of the AstraZeneca jab from India has impacted that supply chain with 5 million doses said to be delayed as a result, meaning people in their 40s are likely to have to wait until May to get their Covid-19 vaccine.

Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said news of constraints in supply was “disappointing” and “a bit of a setback”, and the focus in April in England will be on giving second doses to people who were vaccinated earlier in the year.

“The impact of this shortage of supplies will happen on the group that we were hoping to start on in April, which is the people under the age of 50 without any pre-existing conditions, who are now going to have to wait until May,” he told the BBC.

Scientists said issues over the AstraZeneca vaccine supply has made it all the more urgent that the Moderna vaccine will arrive on time.

Lawrence Young, Professor of Molecular Oncology at Warwick Medical School, said: “Vaccine supply was always going to be challenging – particularly at the current rates of daily vaccinations. This highlights the difficulties in manufacturing these complex vaccines along with need for stringent quality control. We are also limited by having just two approved vaccines (Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca/Oxford) currently in use.

“Millions of doses of the Moderna vaccine, which was approved for use by the UK Medicines regulator (MHRA) in January, were secured for delivery in the spring – where are they? We have also secured 60 million doses of the Novavax vaccine which is currently awaiting regulatory approval.

“We are in a very precarious situation with a significant proportion of the adult population unvaccinated (approximately 21 million in the 18-49 age group) and the continued threat of more transmissible virus variants popping up in different parts of the country. This could mean that we need to revisit the timetable for easing out of lockdown.”

The UK Government signed a deal with Moderna for an initial 5 million doses before ordering another 2 million doses in November. It then ordered a further 10 million doses in January. Final clinical results found the vaccine to be 94.1 per cent effective.

HDA UK Media and Political Bulletin – 19 March 2021

From Factory to Pharmacy

As part of our mission to build awareness, understanding and appreciation of the vital importance of the healthcare distribution sector, we developed an infographic explaining the availability of medicines. It identifies the factors that can impact drug supply, as well as the measures that HDA members undertake day in, day out to help mitigate the risks of patients not receiving their medicines.

See the Infographic

Apply to become a Member

Membership of the HDA guarantees your organisation:

  • Access to leading policy and industry forums of debate and discussion
  • Invitations to a range of networking industry events organised through the year, including an Annual Conference and a Business Day
  • Representation on HDA working parties, including the Members’ Liaison Group
  • A daily Political and Media Bulletin and HDA Newsletters
  • Access to HDA policy documents and all sections of the HDA website
  • Branding and marketing opportunities
Apply Now

Already a Member?