EU starts legal action against AstraZeneca for ‘failing to deliver’ vaccines despite bloc scaremongering over jab safety

EUROPE has launched a legal case against AstraZeneca over its “complete failure” to meet delivery and contractual agreements – despite months of its own indecision over vaccine rollout.

Brussels claims AstraZeneca has contributed to major delays in Europe’s bungled vaccine rollout, although the bloc has been dogged by u-turns and scaremongering among its most prominent leaders.

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Reuters
Europe has launched a legal case against AstraZeneca[/caption]
Rex
The European Commission has launched a legal case against AstraZeneca[/caption]

The legal challenge has been started by the European Commission against AstraZeneca, said Ireland’s health minister.

The litigious European Commission has launched the case despite the bloc’s indecisive approach to the AstraZeneca jab – leading to empty vaccination centres and huge stockpiles as people refuse to get inoculated.

Speaking to the Irish parliament, Stephen Donnelly said on Thursday: “With regard to AstraZeneca, a legal case has been initiated by the Commission.

“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.”

The shambolic vaccine rollout across Europe has been dogged by indecision, with French president Emmanuel Macron last month admitting he completely bungled the programme.

It came after Germany’s Angela Merkel also admitted she made a “mistake” on the crucial rollout.

Pictures emerged of empty vaccine centres in Germany and France as the bungled rollout scared people from attending appointments.

A large vaccination centre in France was forced to close at the weekend, after just 50 people out of 4,000 signed up to have their AstraZeneca jab.

AP
A vaccination centre lies empty in Germany amid the soaring pandemic[/caption]
AP
In France, vaccination booths to administer the AstraZeneca vaccine lay empty[/caption]

The take-up rate of just 1.25 per cent follows a series of warnings, withdrawals and U-turns about the safe and effective UK-developed medicine by President Emmanuel Macron.

While it has been linked with a small number of very rare blood clots, doctors and politicians in both France and Britain still believe Oxford-AstraZeneca should remain a key part of the fight against Covid-19.

Amidst the chaos of repeated U-turns on AstraZeneca, the legal case has come after the drugmaker cut supplies of vaccines to the bloc and marks a further step in EU plans to sever ties with the Anglo-Swedish firm.

AstraZeneca had said it aimed to deliver 300 million doses of its vaccine by June.

But in March it said it would only be able to deliver a third of that amount.

That same month saw the EU send a letter to the firm, marking the first step in legal proceedings.

The legal proceedings come as Europe has stockpiled vials of the AstraZeneca vaccine, as its leaders dither over administering the life-saving jabs.

The EU’s shambolic jab rollout, combined with a third wave of infections, saw large swathes of the continent plunged back into lockdown in the past weeks.

According to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control figures, there were around 5.5 million unused doses of the AstraZeneca jab sitting in warehouses across Europe to the end of last month.

Germany has so far received almost million doses of the vaccine but only administered 4.5 million, while France had taken delivery of 4.6 million but only given out 3,4 million.

Countries across the bloc also banned the AstraZeneca jab amid safety fears.

And the bloc’s jabs rollout has led to a row with the UK – which has imported 11 million doses made in the EU as part of the fastest vaccine drive of any country.

The row blew up over vaccines made at an AstraZeneca plant in the Netherlands, which can churn out up to five million vials a month.

As the EU moved to ban exports from the Dutch plant to Brits, it emerged the UK had actually invested £21m in the factory – while Holland refused to invest.

But Europe has backed away from threats of a vaccine war with the UK after emergency talks with Boris Johnson and the EU.

Johnson issued a stark warning to Brussels of considerable “long-term damage” to its reputation and investment hopes if it threw up barriers.

The PM hit out: “Vaccines are the product of international co-operation.

“I don’t think blockades of either vaccines or of ingredients for vaccines are sensible, and I think that the long-term damage done by blockades can be very considerable.”



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