Italy Police Searched Plant Holding Millions of Astra Doses

Police on Saturday carried out inspections at a pharmaceuticals plant near Rome where millions of doses of the AstraZeneca Plc Covid-19 vaccine have been held.

A European Union official confirmed that 29 million doses were found at the Italian site run by Catalent Inc. The stocks were destined for Belgium, according to a statement from the office of Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

Daily La Stampa reported earlier on Wednesday on the 29 million doses possibly being ready for export to the U.K. That would amount to almost twice as much as has so far been received by the European Union. At least some of the doses were produced by Astra sub-contractor Halix in the Netherlands, according to the newspaper.

Astra said there are 13 million doses at the Italian plant waiting for quality control release to be dispatched to low and middle-income countries under the Covax program, and another 16 million for Europe.

“No other exports are currently planned,” the company said in a statement to “clarify some inaccurate statements.”

Italy confirmed it started an inspection at the site following a request by the European Commission. The results of the search prove that Astra, when pushed, has higher capacity for deliveries, the European Union official said, asking not to be named discussing an ongoing investigation.

‘In Order’

Mario Gargiulo, president of European biologics for Catalent, said in a phone interview that the military-police inspection at the company’s Anagni plant found “everything in order.”

Catalent ships its finished vaccine vials to AstraZeneca’s Belgian distribution center and isn’t involved in their further destinations, Gargiulo said. The manager said he has no idea if doses at the plant were intended for export to the U.K.

AstraZeneca has failed to deliver more than half of the doses it promised the EU for this quarter. The bloc has started negotiations with the U.K. over how to share Astra’s output from a new plant in the Netherlands, and is insisting that it should get the lion’s share, according to two EU officials.

Gargiulo also said that tens of millions of doses present at the plant include bulk drug substance, doses in the bottling process and those already in vials for quality control and awaiting shipping. Dose counts at the plant vary daily, he said. The inspection involved records of shipments in and out of the plant, and not manufacturing or quality controls.

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