The EU’s Dispute with AstraZeneca Intensifies
The conflict between the European Union and AstraZeneca is coming to a head. AstraZeneca maintains that less than half of the pre-financed order will be delivered. The latter is causing outrage and raises suspicion in Brussels.
The pharmaceutical company representative of AstraZeneca had to face the questions of the EU Commission while also listening to strong criticism from the experts of the 27 EU member states. Nonetheless, the companies answer remained the same: AstraZeneca would deliver significantly less vaccine than promised, in fact probably less than half of the agreed doses.
A stance, completely unacceptable, as Stella Kyriakides, the EU Commissioner responsible for health, emphasized after the questioning session.
The European Commission has already made advance payments totaling € 336 million for AstraZeneca. The payment should finance the development of the vaccine and its production. The goal: The vaccine should be delivered immediately after approval, which is expected this week.
Given the recent developments, Commissioner Kyriakides goes as far as suspecting that AstraZeneca might have supplied the vaccine co-financed by the EU to other non-EU countries. Meanwhile, AstraZeneca has stated problems with a Belgian supplier as its cause for the delivery failures.
Added to the delivery issue are concerns about the effectiveness of the vaccine. AstraZeneca yesterday denied media reports that the vaccine is said to have little effect on the elderly. Different media outlets had reported unanimously, citing German government circles, that the vaccine was only eight percent effective in people over 65. According to AstraZeneca, this is “a complete falsehood.”
AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot is nonetheless coming under increasing pressure. At the digital world economic forum in Davos, he didn’t say a word about Brussels’ allegations. Instead, he appealed for global solidarity in the fight against the coronavirus.
EU Council President Charles Michel, who speaks of a great deal of impatience among the population, is also increasingly intervening in the dispute. He said the entire population was suffering from bottlenecks in vaccine production and vaccination.
The EU expected the contracts confirmed by the pharmaceutical companies to be complied with, said Michel. The EU Council President emphasized that the EU could also use legal means to ensure compliance with the treaties without going into any further detail.
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