The EU is suing AstraZeneca over delayed delivery of its vaccine

  • The European Commission has launched legal proceedings against AstraZeneca.
  • AstraZeneca has delivered far fewer doses to the EU than initially promised.
  • It said in January that it needed to cut Q1 deliveries by 60%, citing supply-chain issues.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The European Commission is suing AstraZeneca, saying the drugmaker delayed deliveries of its COVID-19 vaccines to the bloc.

Stella Kyriakides, the European commissioner for health and food safety, tweeted Monday: “@EU_Commission has decided jointly with all Member States to bring legal proceedings against AstraZeneca. Every vaccine dose counts. Every vaccine dose saves lives.”

AstraZeneca denied any breaches of its contract with the EU.

The contract obliged the company to use its “best reasonable efforts” to meet its targets, a standard which the EU is arguing AstraZeneca did not meet.

In a statement, reported by Bloomberg, the company said: “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.”

A European Commission spokesperson told a news conference Monday that the Commission started legal action Friday and all 27 member states backed the move.

The spokesperson said: “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.”

Politico first reported that the EU was preparing legal proceedings against AstraZeneca on the grounds that it under-delivered COVID-19 vaccines to the bloc on Thursday.

But states like Germany and France raised concerns, including that a lawsuit might not result in any more doses for the EU, and arguing that it risked undermining trust in the vaccine.

AstraZeneca has delivered far fewer doses to the EU than promised in its contract — AstraZeneca had committed to “best reasonable efforts” to deliver 180 million vaccine doses in the second quarter of this year, for a total of 300 million from December 2020 to June 2021, per Reuters.

In January, the drugmaker told the EU that supply-chain issues meant that it had to cut its first-quarter deliveries by 60%. On March 12 AstraZeneca said in a statement that the EU would get a third of doses initially promised, per Reuters.

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