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EU may seek legal action against AstraZeneca following vaccine supply cuts

EU supply issues for the AZ vaccine started in January 2021

The European Commission (EC) is reportedly preparing to launch legal action against COVID-19 vaccine maker AstraZeneca (AZ) after supply cuts, according to sources close to the matter.

During a meeting of EU ambassadors this week, a majority of countries said they would support the legal action against AZ, Politico reported.

The EC granted AZ’s Oxford University-partnered vaccine a conditional marketing authorisation in February, although the supply issues date back to January.

AZ initially announced that it would reduce deliveries of the vaccine to the EU by 60% in the first quarter of 2021, with the aim of delivering 31 million doses, rather than the originally agreed 80 million, during that time.

Following that, EU officials met with the drugmaker to discuss the delivery reductions and delays, although those talks failed to provide any real solutions.

At the time, Stella Kyriakides, EU Health Commissioner said: “We regret the continued lack of clarity on the delivery schedule and request a clear plan from AstraZeneca for the fast delivery of the quantity of vaccines that we reserved for Q1.”

Since then, EU leaders debated the possibility of vaccine export measures, with a particular focus on the AZ vaccine.

“We have to and want to explain to our European citizens that they [will] get their fair share,” said Ursula von der Leyen, EC president, at a news conference in March.

She added: “The company (AZ) has to catch up, has to honour the contract it has with the European member states, before it can engage again in exporting vaccines.”

In discussions around the potential legal action, EU diplomats from other countries – including Germany and France – raised concerns. Particularly, one of those concerns outlined was that a lawsuit would not mean that the EU would secure additional doses of the vaccine.

Other concerns highlighted that the legal action could further undermine EU citizens’ trust in the AZ vaccine, which has already been hit following an investigation into possible links to very rare blood clot cases.

According to Politico, AZ is aiming to deliver approximately 70 million does of its vaccine to the EU by the end of Q2, a variation to the company's previous plan to deliver the entire 300 million doses detailed in its contract with the EU by this time.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

23rd April 2021

From: Regulatory

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