MBABANE: The European Union(EU) said Monday it is suing AstraZeneca over an alleged breach of its vaccine supply contract, a dramatic escalation of a months-long dispute over delivery delays that hampered the rollout of shots across the continent, CNN has reported.
The new international controversy surrounding AstraZeneca comes shortly after Lizzie Nkosi, the Minister of Health defended the rollout of the vaccine from the same entity to eSwatini population after receiving a donation from India.
Now, it has been reported that the 27 nations of the European Union had ordered 300 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from the British-Swedish drugmaker to be delivered by the end of June, with an option to purchase an additional 100 million. But deliveries of the vaccine repeatedly fell short, sparking a bitter public fight over the terms of the contract.AstraZeneca said in March it was aiming to send 100 million doses in total to the union in the first half of the year, just a third of what was expected.
\"This action is due to the continuous breach of the terms of the contract and to the lack of a reliable strategy by the company to ensure the timely supply of vaccines in the current circumstances,\" Stefan De Keersmaecker, a Spokesperson for the European Commission, said Monday. The European Commission filed its lawsuit in Brussels on Friday, according to De Keersmaecker. An initial hearing will take place on Wednesday, he added. The bloc said last week it would not exercise its option to purchase the 100 million additional doses. AstraZeneca in a statement denied breaching its contract and said that it \"regrets\" the European Commission\'s decision to launch legal action.
\"Following an unprecedented year of scientific discovery, very complex negotiations, and manufacturing challenges, our company is about to deliver almost 50 [million] doses to European countries by the end of April, in line with our forecast,\" it said.
European Union sues AstraZeneca for delaying delivery of COVID-19 vaccines.