EU to take AstraZeneca to court AGAIN in second round of legal action against vaccine firm

AstraZeneca: UK Under-40s to be offered alternative says JCVI

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Last month, the Commission started a legal case over alleged breaches of an advance purchase agreement with the pharmaceutical company. AstraZeneca – who developed the vaccine with Oxford University – were only able to deliver about a quarter of the promised jabs due to production problems at a plant in Belgium.

However, this new legal case will allow the EU to seek possible financial penalties.

A spokesperson for the Commission said: “Tomorrow the case against AstraZeneca on the merits will be introduced before the Belgian court.”

Yesterday, the European Commission announced it had decided not to renew its contract with AstraZeneca beyond June.

European Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said the EU has not made any new orders for AstraZeneca vaccines beyond June when their contract ends, after the bloc signed a deal with Pfizer-BioNTech.

Mr Breton also said he expected the costs of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to be higher than the earlier versions.

Officials in the bloc were particularly enraged after the company refused to divert doses of the vaccine made in two plants in the UK.

Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca’s chief executive, claimed he was contractually obliged to provide doses made in Oxford and Staffordshire to UK residents in the first instance.

Announcing the start of the legal proceedings last month, a spokesperson for the Commission said some terms of the contract had not been respected.

They said: “What matters to us in this case: there’s a speedy delivery of a sufficient number of doses that European citizens are entitled to and have been promised on the basis of the contract.

“The commission has started legal action on its own behalf and on behalf of the 27 member states that are fully in line with their support for this procedure.”

Ironically, several EU member states halted use of the vaccine earlier this year amid fears it increases the risk of blood clots, despite the EU’s drug regulator approving the jab.

Germany, France, Italy and Spain as well as Portugal, Slovenia, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Romania, Latvia, Austria, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Bulgaria all halted the inoculation of the jab.

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Iceland and Norway, who are both not members of the EU but have joined the European Economic Area (EEA), also stopped the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Back in March, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen threatened to ban the AstraZeneca vaccine from being exported from the continent.

Mrs von der Leyen said: “I think it is clear that first of all the company has to catch up.

“[It] has to honour the contract it has with European member states before it can engage again in exporting vaccines.

“We want to explain to our European citizens that they [can] get their fair share.”

Mr Johnson warned the “blockades” were “not sensible”.

The EU has been widely criticised for its glacial rollout of the coronavirus vaccines and around three million doses of the jabs were being administered each day.

To date, more than 35,000,000 people in the UK have received at least one dose of a vaccine, with 17,856,550 having received both jabs.

Former chief Brexit negotiator for the EU, Michel Barnier, admitted the bloc’s vaccine rollout was slow.

He said the bloc does not take risks like the UK and the US.

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