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European Commission officials have announced they are taking AstraZeneca to court after delays to deliveries.
The firm, which is responsible for the manufacture of the Oxford jab, informed the bloc earlier this year that it would receive fewer doses of the antidote than planned.
It warned problems at one of its plants meant that it would only be able to deliver a third of the jabs committed to.
Outraged, the EU today said it was suing the company for failing to “ensure timely delivery of doses”.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman this afternoon defended the company in the face of the criticism, describing it as a “hugely strong partner” in the fight against Covid-19.
While he would not be drawn on the specifics of the legal case being launched by the EU, the No10 official praised AstraZeneca for having a global impact in the fight against the virus.
He said: “AstraZeneca has been a hugely strong partner to the UK and in fact, globally for their work globally they have been a vital part of our vaccine rollout programme.
“We continue to look forward to working with them.”
AstraZeneca’s contract with the European Commission was for the delivery of 180 million vaccine doses to the EU in the second quarter of this year, for a total of 300 million in the period from December to June.
Under the terms of the deal, the drugs manufacturer pledged its “best reasonable efforts” to meet the target.
The EU’s rollout of coronavirus vaccines has been far slower than in the UK, with the Commission under constant pressure to ramp up the speed of its inoculation programme.
More to follow…
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