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European Commission sues AstraZeneca over COVID-19 jab supplies

Published on 27/04/21 at 11:14am
EU building with flags outside it

The European Commission (EC) announced yesterday that it was suing AstraZeneca for failing to respect its contract to supply COVID-19 vaccines to EU countries.

AstraZeneca was required to make its “best reasonable efforts” under the contract to distribute 180 million vaccines to the EU between the start of April and end of June, equating to a total of 300 million jabs between last December and 30 June this year.

However, the pharmaceutical company announced on March 12 that it aimed to supply just 70 million vaccines in the second quarter of this year, leaving the EU with just one third of their total orders. 

The EC subsequently commenced legal proceedings last Friday, with all 27 EU member states in support of the decision. 

An EU spokesperson told a news conference yesterday: "The Commission has started last Friday a legal action against AstraZeneca.

"Some terms of the contract have not been respected and the company has not been in a position to come up with a reliable strategy to ensure timely delivery of doses.”

He continued: ”We want to make sure there is a speedy delivery of a sufficient number of doses that European citizens are entitled to and which have been promised on the basis of the contract.”

AstraZeneca responded to the announcement yesterday, saying: "AstraZeneca has fully complied with the Advance Purchase Agreement with the European Commission and will strongly defend itself in court. We believe any litigation is without merit and we welcome this opportunity to resolve this dispute as soon as possible.”

The ongoing issues with the delivery of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine have seen the EU mostly administer the Pfizer-BioNTech jab in its fight against COVID-19, rather than the AstraZeneca shot as originally planned.

More AstraZeneca jabs may be made available soon however, with the US announcing that it will share as many as 60 million doses in the coming months, availability and federal safety review pending.

The EU still intends to vaccinate at least 70% of its adult population by the summer, despite this latest setback.

Malta is the EU nation with the largest supply of the jab as a percentage of its adult population so far, with 70.6 doses per 100 people doled out as of yesterday. The UK remains ahead of the rest of the bloc, with 46,650,008 doses administered so far - 69.8 per 100 people.

Jack Goddard

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