Brussels sues AstraZeneca for failing to meet targets in bid to make the firm a scapegoat for shambolic rollout

BRUSSELS is suing AstraZeneca for failing to deliver enough vaccines after making the firm a scapegoat for its shambolic jabs rollout.

It hopes taking the drugmaker to court will boost supplies to the bloc, but many sceptical EU capitals think the move will make no difference.

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Reuters
Brussels is hoping to make AstraZeneca a scapegoat for its shambolic jabs rollout by suing the firm for not delivering enough doses[/caption]
AP
It hopes legal action will boost supplies[/caption]

Eurocrats say the Anglo-Swedish company has been in “continuous breach” of its contract by failing to meet targets.

But in a punchy statement the firm insisted it has “fully complied” with the deal and vowed to “strongly defend itself in court”.

Brussels hopes to use the threat of legal action to pressure AZ into upping its supplies to the continent. A Commission spokesman said: “What matters to us is there’s a speedy delivery of a sufficient number of doses that European citizens are entitled to.

“Some terms of the contract have not been respected and the company has not come up with a reliable strategy to ensure timely delivery of doses.”

But many Member States are only reluctantly supporting the legal action and are doubtful it will make any difference.

One EU diplomat said: “Ultimately, a court case is not going to speed up getting jabs into arms. It could take years.”

AFP
Eurocrats say the company has been in ‘continuous breach’ of its contract[/caption]

Vaccine production ‘a disaster’

A second added: “It’s clear AstraZeneca’s vaccine production in Europe has been a disaster, but what a court case will bring is still to be seen.”

Around half a dozen countries, including France and Germany, also expressed concerns the lawsuit would further undermine confidence in the jab.

The first hearing will take place at a Belgian court on Wednesday.

Europe has been locked in a bitter war of words with AZ all year amid anger and embarrassment over Britain’s faster rollout.

Brussels has accused the firm of cutting deliveries to the continent while prioritising its contract with the UK. But the company says it will deliver almost 50m doses to EU states by the end of this month, which is “in line with our forecast”.

And in a dig at eurocrats it pointed out its staff have been “working around the clock” to get supplies out “at no profit”.

Alamy
An EU diplomat said ‘It’s clear AstraZeneca’s vaccine production in Europe has been a disaster’[/caption]
AFP
AstraZeneca says it will deliver almost 50million doses to EU states by the end of this month[/caption]
Getty
The company hit back saying its staff have been ‘working around the clock’ to get supplies out ‘at no profit’[/caption]

The EU was slow to authorise the AZ jab, and when it did many European states defied the ruling and initially banned it for over-65s.

But they were later forced into U-turns after real-world data from Britain’s faster rollout showed how effective it is.

Europe has vaccinated a fifth of its population, way behind the UK which has now done more than half.



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