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EU launches legal action against AstraZeneca due to vaccine shortages


President of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen

Thierry Monasse | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The European Union confirmed Monday it’s taking legal action against AstraZeneca over shortfalls in the deliveries of its coronavirus vaccine.

“Our priority is to ensure Covid-19 vaccine deliveries take place to protect the health of European Union,” the EU’s commissioner for health, Stella Kyriakides, said Monday via Twitter.

“This is why the European Commission has decided jointly with all Member States to bring legal proceedings against AstraZeneca.”

“Every vaccine dose counts. Every vaccine dose saves lives,” she added.

The EU and the pharmaceutical giant have been at odds on several different occasions this year. Anglo-Swedish firm AstraZeneca said it could not deliver as many vaccines as the bloc was counting on, both during the first quarter and the second quarter. This has delayed the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines across the 27 EU nations.

In March, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had expressed disappointment with AstraZeneca during a press conference, saying that “AstraZeneca has unfortunately under-produced and under-delivered. And this painfully, of course, reduced the speed of the vaccination campaign.”

At the time, von der Leyen said the bloc was expecting 70 million doses from the firm in the second quarter, down from 180 million originally anticipated. The bloc was also expecting 120 million doses in the first three months of the year, but it only received about 30 million doses.

AstraZeneca’s CEO Pascal Soriot had told EU lawmakers in February that low yields at EU production plants were causing the delays.

A spokesperson for the pharmaceutical firm told CNBC last week that it has regular discussions on supply with the commission and member states.

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