Thursday 22 April 2021 3:31 pm

EU kicks off legal case against Astrazeneca over vaccine supply issues

The EU has begun legal proceedings against Astrazeneca over its alleged failure to deliver on its Covid-19 vaccine supply agreements.

Speaking in the Irish parliament today, health minister Stephen Donnelly confirmed that the bloc had initiated action.

“With regard to Astrazeneca, a legal case has been initiated by the (European) Commission and earlier this week I have joined Ireland as one of the parties to that legal case, specifically around Astrazeneca’s complete failure to meet its delivery and contractual agreements for April, May and June,” he said.

Politicians across the bloc have made the pharma giant something of a whipping boy over the past few months amid a bumpy vaccine rollout across the continent.

The European Commission has already confirmed that it will not renew its contracts with the FTSE 100 firm when the current deal expires.

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Under contracts signed with Astrazeneca last year, the bloc had expected to receive 120m doses from the Anglo-Swedish firm by the end of March, with a total 300m doses set to be distributed over the year. 

However manufacturing issues at several of Astrazeneca’s drugmaking facilities forced the firm to revise down its target earlier this year to just 30m doses.

The significant drop has led to a fierce political tangle on the continent, with several EU countries banning the Astrazeneca vaccine and turning to alternative jabs.

The EU has also demanded that Astrazeneca vaccines made in European factories and destined for the UK must instead be reserved for the bloc. 

On several occasions the bloc threatened export controls if the UK did not comply with its demands, triggering outrage.