The European Union has launched legal action against pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca over delivery shortfalls of its coronavirus vaccine, the European Commission said Monday.
“The commission has started last Friday a legal action against the company AstraZeneca on the basis of breaches of the advanced purchase agreement,” EU Commission spokesman Stefan De Keersmaecker.
The legal action was launched on behalf of the bloc’s 27 member states, he added.
AstraZeneca responded to the EU legal action Monday saying it was without merit and pledged to defend itself strongly in court.
“AstraZeneca has fully complied with the Advance Purchase Agreement with the European Commission and will strongly defend itself in court. We believe any litigation is without merit and we welcome this opportunity to resolve this dispute as soon as possible,” AstraZeneca said in a statement.
The EU’s executive body said it was suing AstraZeneca over its failure to respect a contract for the supply of vaccine doses and for not having a “reliable” plan to ensure timely deliveries.
Under the contract, the company had committed to making its “best reasonable efforts” to deliver 180 million vaccine doses to the EU in the second quarter of this year, for a total of 300 million in the period from December to June.
But the company said in a statement on March 12 it would aim to deliver only one-third of that. A week after that, the EU Commission sent a legal letter to the company in the first step of a formal procedure to resolve disputes.
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“Some terms of the contract have not been respected and the company has not been in a position to come up with a reliable strategy to ensure timely delivery of doses,” the EU spokesman said.
“We want to make sure there is a speedy delivery of a sufficient number of doses that European citizens are entitled to and which have been promised on the basis of the contract,” he added.