The European Commission said on Monday it had launched legal action against AstraZeneca for not respecting its contract for the supply of COVID-19 vaccines and for not having a “reliable” plan to ensure timely deliveries.
AstraZeneca said in response that the legal action by the EU was without merit and pledged to defend itself strongly in court.
Under the contract, the Anglo-Swedish company had committed to making its “best reasonable efforts” to deliver 180 million vaccine doses to the EU in the second quarter of this year, for a total of 300 million in the period from December to June.
But AstraZeneca said in a statement on March 12 it would aim to deliver only one-third of that by the end of June, of which about 70 million would be in the second quarter. A week after that, the Commission sent a legal letter to the company in the first step of a formal procedure to resolve disputes.
AstraZeneca’s delays have contributed towards hampering the bloc’s vaccination drive, as the vaccine developed by Oxford University was initially supposed to be the main one in an EU rollout in the first half of this year.