E.U. Sues AstraZeneca Over Missed Vaccine Deliveries

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BRUSSELS — The European Union has filed a lawsuit in Belgium in opposition to the pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca over what it says is a breach of contract within the firm’s supply of Covid-19 vaccine, the European Fee introduced on Monday.

The bloc’s relationship with the corporate has soured quickly since AstraZeneca mentioned in January that it will not have the ability to ship on its scheduled vaccine doses for the primary quarter of the yr, setting the area’s vaccination marketing campaign again by weeks.

“The fee has began final Friday a authorized motion in opposition to the corporate AstraZeneca on the idea of breaches of the superior buy settlement,” mentioned Stefan de Keersmaecker, a spokesman on well being points for the fee, the E.U.’s govt department. “The rationale certainly being that the phrases of the contract, or some phrases of the contract, haven’t been revered and the corporate has not been able to provide you with a dependable technique to make sure the well timed supply of doses.”

Mr. de Keersmaecker mentioned that each one 27 E.U. member nations supported the transfer.

The corporate, whereas acknowledging that manufacturing issues have triggered delays, has mentioned its failure to ship will not be a breach of contract, as a result of the European Union had positioned its order after different purchasers, most notably Britain. A spokesman for the corporate didn’t instantly reply to a request for touch upon Monday.

The 2 events had been engaged in a dispute arbitration effort, however the European Union determined to maneuver forward with a authorized case. The contract is beneath Belgian regulation, and authorized proceedings would occur in Belgium.

The European Union’s vaccine contract with AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish firm, was the primary it signed, in August final yr, and covers 400 million doses. Thus far, the corporate has delivered simply over 30 million.

In an interview with The New York Occasions on Sunday, the European Fee president, Ursula von der Leyen, mentioned the corporate had equipped solely 1 / 4 of what it had promised to the bloc, and needed to ship 200 million doses of vaccines by the top of this quarter.

She indicated that the European Union wouldn’t open talks over future provide. “In the meanwhile, the corporate has a delay in delivering 200 million doses of vaccine by the top of the second quarter,” she mentioned. “The quantity speaks for itself.”

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