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Sunday, May 16, 2021

EU sues AstraZeneca over breach of COVID-19 vaccine contract

EU sues AstraZeneca over breach of COVID-19 vaccine contract

The Community Executive had made it known that it was consulting with the Member States about its intention to prosecute the dispute with AstraZeneca.
The European Commission (EC) announced this Monday that it has denounced the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca before the Belgian ordinary courts, understanding that it has not respected the terms of the vaccine contract signed with the Community Executive for the whole of the European Union (EU).

Our priority is to ensure that COVID-19 vaccine deliveries are produced to protect the health of the EU. That is why the Commission has decided, together with the Member States, to initiate legal proceedings against Astrazeneca. Every dose of vaccine counts. Every dose saves lives, Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said on Twitter.

The Community Executive had made it known that it was consulting with the member states its intention to prosecute the dispute with AstraZeneca, which delivered only 29.8 million vaccines in the first quarter and plans to deliver only 70 million more in the second compared to 300 million of promised doses.

"Last Friday, the Commission initiated legal actions against the AstraZeneca company, based on the breach of the advance purchase agreement," said EC Health spokesman Stefan de Keersmaecker at a press conference.

According to the EC, the pharmaceutical company has not respected "some terms of the contract" and "the company has not been in a position to provide a reliable strategy to guarantee delivery of the doses."

"The Commission has taken these legal actions on its own behalf and on behalf of the 27 Member States of the European Union," he stressed.

Brussels had indicated last week that it was finalizing a lawsuit against the laboratory, which under the contract signed last August must be settled in the Belgian courts.

He also announced that he will not buy the 100 million additional doses to which he had an option, according to the agreement signed by the EC, which centralizes the purchase of doses for the Twenty-seven.

But before filing the complaint, the Commission wanted the support of all EU countries and some, such as France, Germany or the Netherlands, claimed to see the legal document before introducing it to court.

This is yet another step in the tense relationship between the Commission and AstraZeneca since the beginning of the year, when the company announced that it would fail deliveries without providing, in Brussels's view, convincing explanations as to why.

The Community Executive asked in a letter to the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company on March 19 explanations for its delays, thus initiating the dispute resolution procedure provided for in the contract that has now reached the courts.
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