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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 VACCINES

Italy approves fourth Covid vaccine doses for over-60s

Italy has extended the availability of a second Covid-19 vaccine booster shot as infection rates surge across the country.

Italy approves fourth Covid vaccine doses for over-60s

The Italian health ministry announced that fourth Covid vaccine doses, or second booster shots, will soon be available to all residents aged 60 and over, as national medicines regulator Aifa gave the green light on Monday.

Health minister Roberto Speranza said on Monday that doses could be administered to this age group “immediately”, as Italy “moves in line” with recommendations from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

“In the coming hours, immediately, already today, we will adapt our guidelines, our circulars and our indications. We will immediately open up administration in our regions.

“We mustn’t think that the battle against Covid is won. It is still ongoing and we must keep the level of caution high,” he said.

The health ministry confirmed in an update on its website that second booster doses were now recommended to “all persons aged 60 years or older, provided there has been an interval of at least 120 days since the first booster dose or the last post-booster infection (date of positive diagnostic test)”.

READ ALSO: Fourth jabs and isolation: Italy’s plan to control Covid cases this summer

The availability of fourth doses will vary by region, as each local health authority is responsible for managing the timing of its own vaccination campaign.

Several regions, including Lazio (around Rome) and Lombardy (around Milan), said on Monday that they would allow over-60s to book their fourth jabs within the coming days.

A fourth dose can be booked as usual, via pharmacies or family doctors, and via regional booking websites where available. (Find more information in a separate article here.)

Speranza didn’t say when second booster shots may be rolled out to all age groups, stating only that “a new vaccination campaign” is set to begin in September.

Health authorities have previously said they are not planning to make a fourth dose mandatory, though an annual “top-up” shot is likely to be offered.

Until now, only over-80s, care home residents, and clinically vulnerable patients have been eligible for a fourth shot in Italy.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

But health experts are also urging the government to speed up the administration of fourth jabs to these vulnerable groups: uptake remains far lower than hoped so far, with 78 percent of over-80s not getting theirs yet.

With the coronavirus infection rate now at its highest level since February, and the number of hospitalisations expected to keep rising in the coming weeks, the health ministry has not said whether it plans to bring back any recently-scrapped health measures.

For now, the government’s strategy appears to be focused on maintaining the relatively high rate of vaccination coverage in Italy: 90 percent of the population over 12 years old has been fully vaccinated with at least two doses, official figures show.

Find out more about booking a booster shot in Italy in a separate article here. See the government’s ‘prenotazione vaccino‘ (vaccine booking) website for links to regional authorities’ appointment reservation platforms.

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