EU reportedly considers legal action over AstraZeneca vaccine delivery issues

Photo (c) Michael Vi - Getty Images

The company has failed to deliver the number of doses it initially committed to in the first quarter

The European Union is reportedly preparing legal action against vaccine maker AstraZeneca for not supplying enough doses of its COVID-19 vaccine. 

Last September, AstraZeneca agreed to put forth its “best reasonable efforts” to deliver 180 million doses to the EU during the second quarter of 2021. However, the firm has so far only delivered 31 million doses. The European Commission told the 27 European ambassadors at a meeting this week that it was considering legal action because the company’s delivery issues have hampered vaccine distribution efforts. 

"What matters is that we ensure the delivery of a sufficient number of doses in line with the company's earlier commitments," European Commission spokesperson Stefan De Keeresmaecker said Thursday. "Together with the member states, we are looking at all options to make this happen.” 

Politico first reported that the commission is considering legal action. CNBC said it spoke to unnamed sources who said the action could be just days away. 

“The commission wants to move fast. It is a matter of days,” one EU official told the publication. The official added that there has been “large support” from the ambassadors for the legal action, but “a few legal questions” are being examined before the process can move forward.

Holding AstraZeneca to its promises 

The commission is reportedly focused on making sure that upcoming deliveries are in line with the number the company committed to earlier. However, several countries have said they’re concerned that launching a lawsuit against AstraZeneca wouldn’t ensure that the EU got more doses. 

"What can we do in practical terms if AstraZeneca says, 'Take a closer look at our production sites: We just have no vaccines,'" one EU diplomat said, according to Politico.

AstraZeneca executives said earlier this year that the delays in vaccine deliveries were being caused by low yields at EU production plants.

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