EU seeks swift resolution as legal case against AstraZeneca over Covid vaccine supply delays begins in court

The European Union’s (EU) court case against AstraZeneca has begun in a Brussels court, after the European Commission launched legal action against the pharmaceutical giant for failing to meet Covid vaccine delivery targets.

The proceedings began in the Brussels Court of First Instance on Wednesday after the EU claimed that AstraZeneca had breached an agreement to ensure that Covid vaccines ordered by the bloc were delivered in a timely manner.

The legal action was sparked after AstraZeneca was only able to deliver around a quarter of the 120 million doses ordered by the EU within the first quarter of 2021 due to production problems at one of its plants, delaying the vaccine rollout across Europe.

The EU argues that AstraZeneca failed to meet its contractual obligations after the company refused to send doses from plants in the UK to make up the European shortfall. AstraZeneca’s boss, Pascal Soriot, defended the decision to not send doses manufactured in the UK, as he said it would have violated the company’s agreement with the British government.

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“What matters to us in this case: There’s a speedy delivery of a sufficient number of doses that European citizens are entitled to and have been promised on the basis of the contract,” an EU spokesperson said ahead of the court case.

The case will be held under emergency procedures that will allow it to be concluded within two public hearings, meaning a decision can be made within a few weeks.
AstraZeneca has rejected the accusations of the European Commission, saying it regrets that the bloc has taken the disagreement to court. The pharmaceutical company claims that the suggestion it has breached the contract is “without merit,” stating that the company will “strongly defend itself in court.”

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