The European Union has launched legal action against AstraZeneca for not respecting its contract for the supply of Covid-19 vaccines and for not having a “reliable” plan to ensure timely deliveries.
“Our priority is to ensure Covid-19 vaccine deliveries take place to protect the health of European Union,” the EU’s commissioner for health, Stella Kyriakides, said Monday via Twitter.
“This is why the European Commission has decided jointly with all Member States to bring legal proceedings against AstraZeneca.”
“Every vaccine dose counts. Every vaccine dose saves lives,” she added.
The EU and the pharmaceutical giant have been at odds several times this year. The Anglo-Swedish drug company said it could not deliver as many vaccines as the bloc was counting on, both during the first and second quarters. This has delayed the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines across the 27 EU nations.
In March, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had expressed disappointment with the company, saying that “AstraZeneca has unfortunately under-produced and under-delivered. And this painfully, of course, reduced the speed of the vaccination campaign.”
At the time, von der Leyen said the bloc was expecting 70 million doses from the company in the second quarter, down from 180 million originally anticipated. The bloc was also expecting 120 million doses in the first three months of the year, but received only about 30 million.
Last week, von der Leyen announced that a new vaccine contract is set to be concluded with BioNTech-Pfizer for 1.8 billion doses for the 2021-23 period. She said the deal will ensure doses for booster shots, vaccines adapted to new variants, and, potentially, vaccines for children and teenagers.
Von der Leyen said that the EU, home to around 450 million people, has “already passed 123 million vaccinations” and is on track to have vaccinated 70% of all adults by July. Previously the target had been September.