EU Sues AstraZeneca For Delayed Delivery of Millions of COVID Vaccines

The slow delivery of millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine has prompted the European Union (EU) to file legal action against the pharmaceutical company, the EU's executive branch announced Monday.

The EU is pointing the finger at the pace of the AstraZeneca delivery in its stalled campaign to inoculate its populations. European Commission spokesman Stefan De Keersmaecker said Brussels, Belgium, launched the legal action against AstraZeneca on Friday due to "breaches of the advance purchase agreement."

De Keersmaecker went on to say that "some terms of the contract have not been respected" and that "the company has not been in a position to come up with a reliable strategy to ensure a timely delivery of doses."

While AstraZeneca was contracted to deliver 300 million doses across the EU, 30 million were delivered in the first quarter of 2021, according to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Von der Leyen said that its target to vaccinate 70% of all adults in the EU is now set for July rather than the original goal of September. The EU has so far vaccinated 123 million of its 450 million residents.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Swiss President (Swiss People's Party (SVP/UDC) Guy Parmelin (left) and the EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen make a declaration to the media prior to a bilateral meeting in the Berlaymont, the EU Commission headquarters, on April 23, 2021 in Brussels, Belgium. The EU is suing AstraZeneca over a delayed delivery of millions of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

The European Union's executive branch said Monday that it has launched legal action against coronavirus vaccine-maker AstraZeneca for failing to respect the terms of its contract with the 27-nation bloc.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has been central to Europe's immunization campaign, and a linchpin in the global strategy to get vaccines to poorer countries. But the slow pace of deliveries has frustrated the Europeans and has been blamed in part for holding up the EU's vaccine rollout.

But only 30 million doses were delivered in the first quarter of 2021, and the company said it can provide 70 million in the second quarter, rather than the 180 million it had promised.

AstraZeneca has previously said that its contract with the EU contained vaccine delivery targets, not firm commitments, and that the company was unable to meet them because of early problems with rapidly expanding its production capacity.

Last month, the Commission launched a dispute resolution mechanism aimed at amicably addressing its differences with the company. Brussels said that its focus is to ensure timely deliveries of vaccines.

It since said that its option for extra AstraZeneca doses will not be taken up.

Last week, von der Leyen announced that a new vaccine contract is set to be concluded with BioNTech-Pfizer for 1.8 billion doses for the 2021-23 period. She said the deal will ensure doses for booster shots, vaccines adapted to new variants, and, potentially, vaccines for children and teenagers.