EU prepares legal case against AstraZeneca over vaccine delivery issues

Action has been discussed for weeks by the EU’s ambassadors

A file photo of a vial containing the Covid-19 vaccine by AstraZeneca. Photograph: THOMAS KIENZLE/AFP via Getty Images

A file photo of a vial containing the Covid-19 vaccine by AstraZeneca. Photograph: THOMAS KIENZLE/AFP via Getty Images

 

The European Union’s executive arm is preparing to launch a legal case by the end of the week against AstraZeneca over its failure to deliver its promised number of doses to the bloc.

The action, which needs to be agreed by all member states, has been discussed for weeks by the bloc’s ambassadors, according to two officials familiar with the discussions who asked not to be identified because the process is private.

Some governments aren’t fully on board with the legal maneuver, according to one of the officials. The procedure would take between five and seven weeks and the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, has asked capitals to join the process.

A message left with Astra’s media office wasn’t immediately returned. Politico reported earlier on the timing of the legal proceedings.

Vaccine deliveries

Astra delivered just 30 million of its originally committed 120 million doses to the European Union in the first quarter.

Despite Astra’s shortfall, the EU has started to turn the corner in its vaccination campaign, which is still lagging behind the UK and the US. The bloc is aiming to inoculate 70 per cent of its population by the end of the summer.

The Pfizer-BioNTech alliance now plans to deliver 600 million doses to the bloc this year. Pfizer is also bringing forward the timing of some deliveries to this quarter.

The EU rollout could get another jolt if CureVac NV’s vaccine candidate gets approved soon, since many of the German biotech company’s 300 million planned doses for this year would stay on the continent.

- Bloomberg