The European Commission has launched legal action against vaccine manufacturer AstraZeneca, it has been announced.
There has been a long-running dispute between the EU and AstraZeneca, with the European Union becoming increasingly unhappy over delays to vaccine supplies. Only around 30 million vaccine doses were sent to the EU by AstraZeneca in the first quarter of 2021 – much lower than the 80 million that had been planned.
The EU has said they were suing the vaccine manufacturer, which has been working with the University of Oxford, due to it not respecting its supply contract and for not having a ‘reliable’ plan to ensuring that deliveries were made on a timely basis.
In a statement, the vaccine manufacturer said “AstraZeneca regrets the European Commission’s decision to take legal action over the supply of COVID-19 vaccines. Following an unprecedented year of scientific discovery, very complex negotiations, and manufacturing challenges, our company is about to deliver almost 50m doses to European countries by the end of April, in line with our forecast. AstraZeneca has fully complied with the Advance Purchase Agreement with the European Commission and will strongly defend itself in court. We believe any litigation is without merit and we welcome this opportunity to resolve this dispute as soon as possible.”
The European Union’s vaccine rollout has been improving recently, though its slow start has been heavily criticised and has been politically damaging.
Meanwhile, more people have become eligible for the vaccine rollout in the UK. In England, people who will be aged 44 or over on 1 July 2021 are now able to get the jab. The eligibility is also expected to be extended to those aged 40 to 43 in the near future, while in Northern Ireland, people aged 35-39 years old can now book their vaccination.
According to the latest data, more than 33.7 million people in the UK have been vaccinated against COVID-19, accounting for more than half of the UK’s population. So far, over 12.8 million people have had both doses of a vaccine.
On Monday, the UK reported another six deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test, while another 2,064 cases were also reported.