Commission to sue AstraZeneca

Photo: EPA Stella Kyriakides

The European Commission is considering legal action against pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca because of the failed delivery of sufficient Covid-19 vaccines, multiple diplomatic sources said cited by news agencies. The EU executive could seek an injunction because the company had not yet made a formal commitment on planned deliveries, one EU diplomat told dpa.

After repeatedly revising down estimated deliveries, AstraZeneca expects to deliver 70 million doses in the second quarter of the year, according to European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides. This is significantly less than the 180 million the Commission says the company had originally hoped to get.

The row about delivery shortfalls has been running since January, when AstraZeneca announced production hiccoughs were affecting their EU supply chain. The Union even halted the export of 250,000 of the company's vaccine doses from Italy to Australia.

As a first step, the EU executive branch launched a dispute resolution process with the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company in March. "What matters is that we ensure the delivery of a sufficient number of doses in line with the company’s earlier commitments," Commission spokesperson Stefan De Keeresmaecker said on Thursday. "Together with the Member States, we are looking at all options to make this happen," he added, without commenting on the possibility of legal action.

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