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COVID-19 VACCINES

EU and AstraZeneca both claim victory after Covid vaccine judgement

Both Astra Zeneca and the EU claimed victory on Friday after the first court case linked to the row over the delivery of Covid vaccine doses.

People wait to be allowed to leave a centre after receiving their vaccination against coronavirus
ANDER GILLENEA / AFP

The Anglo-Swedish company said the EU had lost a legal case against it, but European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the court ruling supported its view that the medical firm had failed to honour its commitments, reported Reuters.

AstraZeneca had committed to do its best to deliver 300 million doses to the 27-nation bloc by the end of June, but production delays led it to revise this to 100 million vaccines, delaying the bloc’s vaccine roll out.

COMPARE: What are the Covid test requirements around Europe for child travellers

This sparked a bitter row and the EU took legal action to secure at least 120 million doses by the end of June.

However, the judge ruled that AstraZeneca must deliver only 80.2 million doses by a deadline of September 27th. The drugmaker said it would “substantially exceed” that by the end of June. 

AstraZeneca must now deliver 15 million doses by July 26th, another 20 million by August 23rd and a further 15 million by September 27th, to reach a total of 50 million doses.

A pharmacist prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP)

This is in addition to the 30 million that had been given to the EU when the legal case began, a court statement read.

Failure to do so would result in a penalty of “10 euros per dose not delivered”, the judge said.

EU data shows the company has already dispatched nearly 70 million doses, more than half of which were delivered after the start of the legal proceedings, the news agency reported.

This brings AstraZeneca close to already meeting the court’s requirement of 80 million doses in total by September 27th.

READ ALSO: Europe remains at risk of Autumn Covid resurgence, WHO warns

An EU lawyer also said the judgment meant that as a proof of best effort, AstraZeneca will have to deliver Covid-19 vaccines from a factory in Britain, if needed, to meet its EU commitments.

The company had said it could not immediately deliver to the EU doses from an Oxford BioMedica factory because it had to supply Britain first.

The ruling said that AstraZeneca may have committed a serious breach of the contract by reserving Oxford BioMedica’s output for the British market. A final decision on this will be made in a second legal case.

In a statement, the company said, “The judgement also acknowledged that the difficulties experienced by AstraZeneca in this unprecedented situation had a substantial impact on the delay.

“AstraZeneca now looks forward to renewed collaboration with the European Commission to help combat the pandemic in Europe.”

The case of speeding up delivery is one of the legal challenges being brought by the EU against the drugmaker. A second legal action by the EU over an alleged breach of the supply contract by AstraZeneca will continue after the summer.

Member comments

  1. So, the EU wanted 230million doses delivered by the end of September and the Court ordered just 10million. No fine was imposed and the Court determined that the EU had no exclusivity or priority of supply. Difficult to see how VDL can claim this as a win since it turns out that buying vaccines really is like buying meat in a butcher’s shop and EU is at the back of the queue.

  2. Agree all of this just confirms the EU,s outrageous arrogance. I thought they wanted AZ banned anyway??? They have done all they can to destroy its reputation.

    1. I quite agree the EU has and still is acting shamelessly – Kim Jong-un could learn a thing or two from these!

  3. While the EU and the US pharma companies are making billions of euros and dollars in profiteering from the pandemic together with their governments in taxes , the UK based AZ is being castigated and sued by the EU for its best efforts to deliver a vaccine at cost to the world.
    Shame on the EU for not addressing the greed of their pharma companies and instead targetting AZ and destroying the reputation of its vaccine, a vaccine the world needs because it can afford it.

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COVID-19

OUTLOOK: Could Switzerland introduce Covid rules this autumn?

After several months of a relatively low number of coronavirus cases in Switzerland, the rate of infections rose by over 22 percent in a span of seven days this week. What measures are Swiss health officials planning to prevent a new wave?

OUTLOOK: Could Switzerland introduce Covid rules this autumn?

The Swiss government has said that “further waves of infections are to be expected in the fall/winter of 2022/2023″.

As in previous waves, “the main objective of managing the pandemic is to prevent an overload of the health system. It is currently difficult to predict the magnitude of the waves of infection and, therefore, the burden on the healthcare system”, it added.

According to current estimates, “it can be assumed that ordinary structures will be sufficient to manage the situation”.

However, unless new, deadly variants emerge in the near future, health officials  expect the new wave to be milder than the ones  that struck in the winter of 2020 and 2021.

There are several reasons for this optimism:

Higher immunity

Due to vaccinations and infections, “it is estimated that 97 percent of the Swiss population has been in contact with the virus”, which means that “immunity within the population is currently high”, authorities said.

Lighter course

This means that unlike the early Covid strains like Alpha and Delta, which were highly virulent, the latest dominant mutation — Omicron and its subvariants — while highly contagious, are also less dangerous for most people.

New vaccines

The new version of the Moderna vaccine, which should better target certain sub-variants of Omicron, will be rolled in Switzerland from October 10th.

Compared to the original vaccine, which was effective mostly against early strains and offered no protection against Omicron, “the new vaccine produces a stronger immune response against the Omicron variants BA.1 and BA.4/5″, according to the drug regulatory body, Swissmedic.

READ MORE: BREAKING: Switzerland approves new Covid-19 boosters

Is the government planning any specific measures this winter?

While the severity of the new wave is not yet known, authorities have made several ‘just-in-case’ provisions by, for instance, extending the Covid-19 law until June 2024.

This legislation, which was approved in a referendum in November 2021, allows the Federal Council to maintain and apply emergency measures that are necessary to manage the pandemic. Without the extension, ithe law would lapse in December of this year.

READ MORE: Covid-19 law: How Switzerland reacted to the referendum results

“No one wants to reactivate the Covid law. But after two years of the pandemic, we have understood that we must be ready”, said MP Mattea Meyer.

While no mask mandates or other restrictions are being discussed at this time, the re-activated legislation would allow the authorities to quickly introduce any measures they deem necessary, according to the evolution of the epidemiological situation.

More preparations from the cantons

As it would be up to the cantons to apply measures set by the federal government, some have asked that financing be made available in case regional hospitals have to again accommodate patients from other cantons.

They are also making sure enough intensive care beds are ready for Covid patients.

What about the Covid certificate and tracing?

Though it is no longer used in Switzerland, the certificate continues to be required abroad.

The government will ensure its international compatibility.

The legal basis for the SwissCovid tracking app will also remain in force and can be reactivated during the winter of 2023/2024, if necessary.

MPs are also debating possible rules to be enforced for cross-border workers in the event of border closures.

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