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EU sues AstraZeneca after delays in vaccine deliveries

The 27 nations of the European Union had ordered 300 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from the British-Swedish drugmaker to be delivered by the tip of June, with an choice to buy an extra 100 million. But deliveries of the vaccine repeatedly fell quick, sparking a bitter public combat over the phrases of the contract.

AstraZeneca mentioned in March it was aiming to ship 100 million doses in whole to the union within the first half of the yr, only a third of what was anticipated.

“This action is due to the continuous breach of the terms of the contract and to the lack of a reliable strategy by the company to ensure the timely supply of vaccines in the current circumstances,” Stefan De Keersmaecker, a spokesperson for the European Commission, mentioned Monday.

The European Commission filed its lawsuit in Brussels on Friday, in accordance with De Keersmaecker. An preliminary listening to will happen on Wednesday, he added. The bloc mentioned final week it might not train its choice to buy the 100 million further doses.

AstraZeneca in a press release denied breaching its contract and mentioned that it “regrets” the European Commission’s resolution to launch authorized motion.

“Following an unprecedented year of scientific discovery, very complex negotiations, and manufacturing challenges, our company is about to deliver almost 50 [million] doses to European countries by the end of April, in line with our forecast,” it mentioned.

“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,” it added.

The lawsuit may mark the beginning of a prolonged courtroom battle.

The full, unredacted contract between the European Commission and AstraZeneca — first revealed by Italian broadcaster RAI — features a clause that seems to launch the corporate from authorized motion for delays in supply.

But European Commission officers had beforehand mentioned they believed the corporate was appearing in opposition to the spirit of the contract, pointing to AstraZeneca’s profitable delivering to the United Kingdom whereas failing to fulfill its targets for the bloc.

“What matters to us in this case, is that we want to make sure that 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,” mentioned De Keersmaecker, including all 27 international locations supported this motion.

'One mistake after the other.' How AstraZeneca went from pandemic hero to villain

The lawsuit is the most recent in a string of issues for AstraZeneca. The firm got here beneath scrutiny over the way in which it introduced its medical trial information in Europe within the earlier phases of the pandemic, and extra just lately within the United States.

Decisions from drug regulators in a number of European nations to delay advising the shot for older adults, due to a scarcity of trial information in these age teams, might have contributed to hesitancy in taking the vaccine in elements of the continent.

And studies of a uncommon however typically deadly blood clotting situation following use of the vaccine in youthful adults, largely girls, has prompted some international locations to limit its use to solely older members of their populations. Some international locations, corresponding to Denmark, have scrapped use of the vaccine altogether.

AstraZeneca will launch its first quarter monetary outcomes on Friday.

CNN’s Lindsay Isaac contributed to this report.

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