EU launches legal action against AstraZeneca due to vaccine shortages

eu-launches-legal-action-against-astrazeneca-due-to-vaccine-shortages

President of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen

Thierry Monasse | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The European Union confirmed Monday it’s taking legal action against AstraZeneca over shortfalls in the deliveries of its coronavirus vaccine.

“Our priority is to ensure Covid-19 vaccine deliveries take place to protect the health of European Union,” the EU’s commissioner for health, Stella Kyriakides, said Monday via Twitter.

“This is why the European Commission has decided jointly with all Member States to bring legal proceedings against AstraZeneca.”

“Every vaccine dose counts. Every vaccine dose saves lives,” she added.

The EU and the pharmaceutical giant have been at odds several times this year. The Anglo-Swedish drug company said it could not deliver as many vaccines as the bloc was counting on, both during the first and second quarters. This has delayed the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines across the 27 EU nations.

“Following an unprecedented year of scientific discovery, very complex negotiations, and manufacturing challenges, our company is about to deliver almost 50m doses to European countries by the end of April, in line with our forecast,” AstraZeneca said in a statement on Monday.

“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 firm also said.

In March, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had expressed disappointment with the company, saying that “AstraZeneca has unfortunately under-produced and under-delivered. And this painfully, of course, reduced the speed of the vaccination campaign.”

At the time, von der Leyen said the bloc was expecting 70 million doses from the company in the second quarter, down from 180 million originally anticipated. The bloc was also expecting 120 million doses in the first three months of the year, but received only about 30 million.

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot had told EU lawmakers in February that low production at EU plants were causing the delays.

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