‘All options’ still on the table for AstraZeneca in Europe
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‘All options’ still on the table for AstraZeneca in Europe

Credit: Belga

“All options” are still on the table as to the EU’s future action towards AstraZeneca over its insufficient deliveries of Covid-19 vaccines, several European Commission spokespersons said at midday on Thursday.

They said that any decision will be taken in agreement with the Member States.

The reaction comes after media reports that the EU is ready to take legal action against the Swedish-British pharmaceutical company for failing to respect its contract with the Commission.

“There has not yet been a decision on legal action,” health spokesman Stefan De Keersmaecker said on Thursday.

The Commission sent a letter to the pharmaceutical company last month with a view to engage in a dispute resolution process. The company has responded and contacts have taken place between officials on both sides, but these negotiations have “not yet” led to a solution that would assure Europe of “timely delivery of a sufficient number of doses,” he said.

Ensuring that the 27 EU member states receive a satisfactory number of doses of vaccine from AstraZeneca remains the Commission’s priority, the spokesman said.

So far, the figures have been much lower than expected, with around 30 million doses delivered in the first quarter.

For the second quarter, “the contract was for 180 million doses but the company has indicated that it is on track to deliver 70 million.”

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The European contract with AstraZeneca last summer was for 300 million doses, with an option to purchase a further 100 million. The deadline for exercising this option has now passed, so the contract will remain limited to the initial 300 million doses.

The contract signed on 27 August was the very first, and was followed by other agreements with BioNTech-Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson Johnson, Sanofi-GSK and CureVac (the marketing authorisation for the latter two vaccines has not yet been granted).

The Commission is still in negotiations with Novavax and Valneva. The latter, a Franco-Austrian company, indicated this week that it no longer wished to prioritise centralised discussions with the Commission due to lack of progress.

The company mentioned bilateral talks with Member States, but the Commission recalled on Thursday that “parallel negotiations are not allowed” for vaccines for which the EU is negotiating on behalf of the 27 member states.

The Brussels Times