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EU prepares legal case against AstraZeneca

Toronto, April 22: The European Union (EU) is set to sue British-Swedish vaccine producing company AstraZeneca for failing to deliver vaccines to Europe, reports Sputnik.

The European Commission is preparing the case, quoting diplomatic sources as reported Reuters. A top diplomat said the final decision on the case was taken after discussions with the European Commission representatives in Brussels.

AstraZeneca promised to supply these vaccines to Europe by the second quarter.

At the meeting, most countries expressed support for the case and offered necessary assistance.

Due to various problems, including technical complications with a Belgian factory, it was not possible for AstraZeneca to provide 300 million vaccines in Europe. In the first quarter of this year, only 40 percent of the promised vaccines were made available to AstraZeneca.

The company made the vaccine in a British plant, but it was not possible to send the vaccine to Europe in the end due to the local demand.

22.9 percent of Europeans have been able to get a single dose of Covid vaccine. EU leaders expect 80 percent of Europeans to be vaccinated by next summer.

According to some of the diplomats, the Commission also has not elaborated to EU countries on its legal reasoning for such a move, prompting intense debate at the meeting. One diplomat said the lawsuit would address the company’s failure to meet the deliveries schedule set out in its EU advance-purchasing agreement, while another said the point is to make it mandatory for AstraZeneca to provide the doses set out in its EU contract.

Another point of contention among some countries is that the issue is not just contractual but political, and as such, requires member countries to be more involved in the contracts that the Commission negotiates with companies.

AstraZeneca stoked the ire of the EU in January when it admitted it could not ship to the bloc the number of doses initially anticipated. By the end of the first quarter, the company delivered just 30 million doses to EU countries, rather than the 100 million doses pledged in its EU contract. The shortages severely hampered vaccination campaigns across EU countries.

The company has projected it will deliver roughly 70 million doses by the end of the second quarter of this year, when it was supposed to have delivered the entire 300 million doses secured in the EU contract.

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