European Union lawyers have demanded AstraZeneca to immediately deliver COVID-19 vaccines from its factories in Britain. The call came in the opening hearing of the European Commission’s legal case in Brussels against the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker over supply delays. The EU accuses the company of failing to meet its contractual obligations, whereas AstraZeneca says it is complying with the agreement, which it considers not fully binding.
EU lawyer Rafael Jafferali said that they demand deliveries by the end of June and also demand with immediate effect the use of all plants listed in the contract. He explained that the contract lists a series of plants that had to be used by AstraZeneca and that, in breach of the contract, AstraZeneca is not using them. However, AstraZeneca lawyer Hakim Boularbah retorted that there is no obligation to use the factories.
The contract lists four vaccine-making plants, with two of them in Britain. Whereas AstraZeneca has delivered doses to the EU from sites in Belgium and the Netherlands, it has not shipped to EU countries any dose produced in UK plants. EU officials said that AstraZeneca justifies the lack of supplies from Britain by citing clauses in its UK contracts that prevent exports of the vaccine it developed with Oxford University. The UK government has denied export curbs and is seeking extra doses from a factory in the Netherlands run by AstraZeneca’s sub-contractor Halix. The EU is now blocking exports from that plant.