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EU prepares legal action against AstraZeneca

EU prepares legal action against AstraZeneca

April 23, 2021: According to four people familiar with the matter, the European Union is preparing legal action against AstraZeneca regarding the shortage in deliveries of its coronavirus vaccine.

The EU and the pharmaceutical giant have been at odds on some different occasions this year. AstraZeneca said it is unable to deliver as many vaccines as the bloc counted expects, both in the first quarter and the second quarter, which delayed the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines in 27 EU nations.

The European Commission told the 27 European ambassadors on Wednesday that it considered legal action against AstraZeneca for their delivery issues, four EU officials told CNBC on Thursday.

“The commission wants to move fast. It is a matter of days,” one of the officials told CNBC on call, adding that there was a “large support” from the ambassadors for the legal action.

When contacted by CNBC on Thursday, a spokesperson for the European Commission said, “What matters is that we ensure the delivery of several doses in line with the earlier commitments by the company.”

“Together with the Member States, we are looking at all options to make this happen,” the spokesperson added, not confirming or denying that legal action was being considered.

In March, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had expressed disappointment with AstraZeneca. She said in a press conference that “AstraZeneca has unfortunately under-produced and under-delivered, which reduced the pace of the vaccination campaign.”

In February, AstraZeneca’s CEO Pascal Soriot had told EU lawmakers that low yields at EU production plants were the reason for delays. A spokesperson for the pharmaceutical firm told CNBC on Thursday that “AstraZeneca is not aware of any legal proceedings and continues to hold regular discussions on supply with the Commission and the Member States.”

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