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UPDATE 1-Switzerland 'unfortunately' still awaiting AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine data - official

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John Miller
·2-min read
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(Adds details, background)

By John Miller

ZURICH, April 20 (Reuters) - Switzerland's drug regulator is still awaiting data needed to consider AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine candidate for approval, a Swissmedic official said on Tuesday, adding the information "unfortunately" had yet to be submitted.

AstraZeneca was the first vaccine maker to seek approval back in early October 2020, but has since been surpassed by three vaccines that have won Swissmedic's blessing from Pfizer , Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Another candidate, from Germany's CureVac, this week submitted a rolling application, in hopes of a speedy OK.

Claus Bolte, Swissmedic's head of approvals, said AstraZeneca's approval process had dragged on as part of a "curious" situation, marked by the British-Swedish company's release of initial, optimistic efficacy data in March that drew a U.S. officials' rebuke, before days later issuing slightly worse numbers.

"We're waiting, just like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, for the results of clinical trials in Latin America and North America," Bolte said during a virtual press conference from Bern.

"It was announced four weeks ago, but it has unfortunately not yet been submitted," he said. "We want to decide on an approval. Right now, however, it's not possible."

Also at the press conference, Swiss vaccines czar Nora Kronig said that Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine deliveries had experienced some hiccups and delays, but the Swiss government still anticipated the U.S. company would fulfill its commitments to Switzerland for the second quarter.

Moderna told Reuters last week that its second-quarter deliveries to Britain and Canada would be delayed, but that Swiss and European Union shipments would hit target ranges.

Switzerland expects to get eight million doses combined from Moderna and Pfizer and its German partner BionTech in April, May and June. (Reporting by John Miller, editing by John Revill and Silke Koltrowitz)