EU takes on AstraZeneca in courtroom over deliveries

Brussels, May 26

The European Union (EU) took on vaccine producer AstraZeneca in a Brussels court on Wednesday with the urgent demand that the company needs to make an immediate delivery of Covid-19 shots the bloc insists were already due.

AstraZeneca’s contract signed with the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, on behalf of member states foresaw an initial 300 million doses for distribution among all 27 countries, with an option for a further 100 million. The doses were expected to be delivered throughout 2021. But only 30 million were sent during the first quarter.

Deliveries have increased slightly since then but, according to the European Commission, the company is set to provide only 70 million doses in the second quarter. It had promised 180 million. EU lawyer Rafael Jafferali told the court that the company now expected to deliver the total number of doses by the end of December, but he added that “with a six-month delay, it’s obviously a failure”. His main argument is that AstraZeneca should have used production sites in the bloc and the UK for EU supplies as part of a “best reasonable effort” clause in the contract. — AP

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Seoul: South Korean officials say they plan to allow people to drop their masks from July if they have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, as they mull incentives to promote inoculation. AP

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