E.U. Will Not Take up Option to Buy 100 Million Extra Covid Vaccines from AstraZeneca

The European Commission has decided not to take up an option to buy 100 million additional doses of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine after safety concerns about cases of blood clotting linked to the vaccine as well as issues with its supply. The European Union’s contract with AZ included 400 million doses of the vaccine, 100 million of which were optional. An E.U. spokesman said that the deadline to exercise this option had passed and that the bloc did not wish to take it up.

The E.U. is also preparing legal proceedings against AstraZeneca over the “fulfilment of deliveries”, though the drugmaker said it was not yet aware of any action. Reuters has the story.

The European Commission is working on legal proceedings against AstraZeneca after the drugmaker cut Covid vaccine deliveries to the E.U., sources familiar with the matter said.

The move would mark a further step in an E.U. plan to sever ties with the Anglo-Swedish company after it repeatedly cut supplies to the bloc, contributing to major delays in Europe’s vaccine rollout.

The news about the legal case was first reported on Thursday by Politico. An E.U. official involved in talks with drugmakers confirmed authorities in Brussels were preparing to sue the company.

“EU states have to decide if they (will) participate. It is about fulfilment of deliveries by the end of the second quarter,” the official said…

“What matters is that we ensure the delivery of a sufficient number of doses in line with the company’s earlier commitments,” a Commission spokesman said in an emailed statement. “Together with the member states, we are looking at all options to make this happen.”

Questions have been raised by the E.U. about how AstraZeneca has spent the money granted to it by the bloc to produce Covid vaccines, as well as about delays to the delivery of the vaccine.

Brussels also questioned how AstraZeneca spent more than 224 million euros ($270 million) granted by the E.U. in September to buy vaccine ingredients and for which the bloc said the company had not provided sufficient documents confirming the purchases.

Under the contract, the company had committed to making its “best reasonable efforts” to deliver to the E.U. 180 million vaccine doses in the second quarter, for a total of 300 million in the period from December to June.

But the company said in a statement on March 12th it would aim to deliver only one-third of that…

Under the contract, the parties agreed that Belgian courts would be responsible for settling unresolved disputes.

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