European Union to Take Legal Action Against AstraZeneca

The European Commission is preparing to file a legal action against the producer of AstraZeneca over shortfalls in deliveries of its vaccines, according to the four European Union diplomats.

Anglo-Swedish firm AstraZeneca said it could not deliver as many vaccines it repeatedly cut supplies to the bloc, contributing to major delays in Europe’s vaccine rollout.

This issue has delayed the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines across the 27 EU nations.

One of the four officials, who did not want to be named told CNBC on Thursday that the European ambassadors at a meeting on Wednesday were considering legal action against AstraZeneca for these delivery issues.

“The commission wants to move fast. It is a matter of days,” one of the officials told CNBC via telephone.

The official also said that that there had been “large support” from the ambassadors for the legal action.

A spokesperson for the European Commission said, “what matters is that we ensure the delivery of a sufficient number of doses in line with the company’s earlier commitments.”

“Together with the Member States, we are looking at all options to make this happen,” the same spokesperson told CNBC.

Commission spokesperson Stefan De Keersmaeker confirmed Monday that they began legal action against AstraZeneca.  

“Indeed the Commission has started last Friday a legal action against the company AstraZeneca on the [basis] of breaches of the advanced purchase agreement,” said De Keersmaeker.

The EU was supposed to receive 300 million AstraZeneca doses by the end of June but receive just 30 million in the first quarter of 2021 and is projected to deliver 70 million in the second quarter, a third of the expected total. 

AstraZeneca responded to the EU and said the lawsuit was without merit and that it honored the advance purchase agreement with the EU. 

According to AstraZeneca, they expected to deliver 50 million doses by the end of April.

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