European Union (EU) has initiated legal action against AstraZeneca, the UK-based pharmaceutical company, for delaying the shipment of hundreds of millions of doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to the 27-nation bloc.
In this regard, a spokesman for European Commission- the EU’s executive branch-, Stefan De Keersmaecker, said that AstraZeneca has been sued for breaching the advance purchase agreement that was signed last year.
Stefan added that AstraZeneca has not only disrespected the contract but the company has been unable to devise a reliable plan to ensure the timely delivery of doses as well.
On the other hand, AstraZeneca has said the company has always fully complied with the advance purchase agreement with the EU.
In an official statement, the UK-based company termed the EU’s move as uncalled for amid the Coronavirus pandemic and pledged to strongly plead its case in the court of law.
In August last year, European Commission signed an agreement with AstraZeneca for the supply of 300 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, with an option for additional 100 million doses.
However, earlier this year, AstraZeneca disclosed that one of its production plant in Belgium had developed technical problems and as a result, the scheduled delivery to the EU would be adversely affected.
Under the advance purchase agreement, the EU was meant to receive 80 million doses during the first quarter of 2021. However, AstraZeneca was able to deliver only 30 million doses in this year’s first quarter. Of the 180 million doses planned for delivery in the second quarter of 2021, AstraZeneca will supply only 70 million.
Initially, the EU had planned to use AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine as the main vaccine in its mass vaccination drive. However, owing to supply issues, the EU has mostly been using Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, as the bloc aims to administer at least one vaccine dose to a minimum of 70% of the entire population by this summer.