AstraZeneca Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said on Friday the drugmaker had not overpromised on the supply of Covid-19 vaccines around the world, as he defended big cuts in deliveries that prompted a lawsuit by the European Union.
The European Commission has launched legal proceedings against the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker for not respecting its contract for the supply of Covid-19 vaccines, and for not having a "reliable" plan to ensure timely deliveries.
Soriot said the company did its best to deliver as much as it could to the EU, and while he was disappointed it could not have delivered more, he was proud of the company's work on the vaccine and was "totally committed" to increasing supply.
"We never overpromised, we communicated what we thought we would achieve at the time," he told journalists, adding the company was not delivering the quantity of vaccine it was hoping to deliver to Europe.
AstraZeneca will have delivered 50 million doses to the EU by the end of April, he said. By the end of March, AstraZeneca had delivered only a quarter of what it had committed to the EU.
The company has said it plans to ship a total of 100 million doses to the bloc by the end of June, instead of 300 million foreseen in the contract.
But he pointed to the situation in India, which is experiencing a devastating wave of Covid-19 infections, where AstraZeneca's vaccine makes up 90% of the shots available.
"Imagine without our vaccine what India would look like. Imagine if we had not stepped up, imagine if we had said no," Soriot said.
AstraZeneca said 300 million doses of the shot had been made available in 165 countries thus far.
"We don't regret anything because ... we have made an enormous difference," he said.