Block was suing for at least 120 million doses of AstraZeneca at the end of June after bitterly blaming Brexit Britain for its shortfall – despite leaders like Emmanuel Macron claiming the jab didn’t work.
But a Brussels judge ordered the Anglo-Swedish firm to deliver only 50 million doses by September 27, in addition to the 30 million that the firm had already provided in the first quarter – which made Ursula von bleed again. der Leyen.
AstraZeneca hailed the ruling, saying it had already delivered more than 70 million doses to the EU – including the first quarter total – and that it would “significantly exceed” the timeline set by the judge.
The pharmaceutical firm said the judge “also acknowledged that the difficulties AstraZeneca faced in this unprecedented situation had a substantial impact on the delay.”
But Von der Leyen claimed the ruling supported the EU’s view that AstraZeneca – against which the bloc recently launched a second trial – had failed to live up to its commitments.
“This decision confirms the Commission’s position: AstraZeneca has not honored the commitments made in the contract,” said Von der Leyen.
In a statement, AstraZeneca said: “AstraZeneca is now considering renewed collaboration with the European Commission to help fight the pandemic in Europe.
“The company remains committed to ensuring wide and fair distribution of the vaccine, as outlined in the August 2020 advance purchase agreement.
“In less than twelve months, AstraZeneca has worked extremely hard to develop an effective vaccine without profit and is the second largest supplier to the 27 EU Member States.”
They added that their vaccine had shown a reduction of more than 90% in serious illness and hospitalizations caused by Covid-19, as well as data from the UK which showed 92% effectiveness against the Indian variant.
AstraZeneca had initially committed to a contract to do its best to deliver 300 million doses to the bloc of 27 countries by the end of June, but production issues have led the company to revise its target to 100 million vaccines .
Supply cuts delayed the EU’s vaccination campaign in the first quarter of the year, when Brussels initially bet on AstraZeneca to deliver the bulk of its doses.
This has led to a furious conflict and legal action by the EU to obtain at least 120 million doses by the end of June.
The court said in a statement that AstraZeneca was to deliver 15 million doses by July 26, another 20 million by August 23 and another 15 million by September 27, for a total of 50 million. additional doses.
If the company did not meet these deadlines, it would face a penalty of “10 euros (£ 8.57) per undelivered dose,” the European Commission said.
AstraZeneca said other measures requested by the Commission were rejected and the court concluded that the EU had no exclusivity or priority rights over other parties with which the drug maker had contracts.
If the court had sided with Brussels, AstraZeneca could have been faced with a diversion of vaccines destined elsewhere to the EU.
The European Union last month launched a second lawsuit against the drug maker asking for financial penalties for delays in vaccine supply.
Today, 27 percent of EU citizens have been fully immunized, while 46 percent have received at least one dose. This compares to 62 percent fully stung and 45 percent with a dose in Britain.
The EU languished much further behind Britain when it launched a vaccine war in January after being warned by AstraZeneca to expect a lack of doses.
Executives like Macron lashed out at the UK, claiming the jab developed by the University of Oxford was only “near-effective” – a claim that later proved alarmingly baseless on its own. EU medicines regulator.
The bloc has meanwhile shifted towards an export embargo policy, condemned as “stupid” even by Jean Claude Juncker, to force AstraZeneca to obtain supplies.
Much of the responsibility for deploying the vaccine in the EU has been blamed on Ursula von der Leyen’s gate.
And one A third of Germans said the coronavirus crisis showed “integration into the EU has gone too far” – a peak of 10% from last year, according to European Council on Foreign Relations inquiry (ECFR).
German disillusionment was laid bare in February with a cover of Bild, the country’s most popular newspaper, with the headline: “Dear Brits, We Envy You!
“The poor performance of the EU in deploying the vaccine risks turning Brexit from a cautionary tale on Euroscepticism into a story of liberation from the bureaucratic slowness of Brussels institutions,” ECFR said in a statement. guidance note.
As Britain moved forward with deployment of Covid doses, AstraZeneca supplied 30 million does to the Bloc at the end of the first quarter, instead of the 100 million the EU said it had committed to be delivered in its contract.
The EU blamed the manufacturer, but the reason Britain and the US have been successful in rolling out vaccines compared to the EU is that they were able to secure doses by cutting red tape.
Brussels, on the other hand, signed contracts with AstraZeneca much later due to its heavy bureaucracy.
They were also more dependent on receiving doses from Pfizer and Moderna, which were hit with production issues early on.
The commission, which has purchased vaccines on behalf of the entire EU, initially conceived the AstraZeneca jab as the main workhorse of the bloc’s vaccination campaign.
He has now switched to the more expensive Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine as a mainstay.
In January, the European Medicines Regulatory Agency (EMA) approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for all age groups, but a number of EU countries, including France and Germany, have refused to allow it. recommend to people over 65 years old.
In early March, France and Germany were forced into humiliating U-turns and approved the jab for 65-74 year olds.
But weeks later, they were among 13 countries that suspended use of the vaccine after sporadic reports of blood clots.
Now, a number of other countries have restricted the AstraZeneca jab to the elderly, as in France, for example, it is restricted to people aged 55 and over.
On April 7, the regulator acknowledged that there was a “possible link” between AstraZeneca and blood clots, but said neither age group nor gender was a determining risk factor.
Most countries then resumed using the vaccines after the publication of the EMA and said the incidence of blood clots was actually lower in those who received a vaccine than in the general population.