Thursday, December 2

Covid-19: AstraZeneca and the EU Announce Agreement Ending Litigation Over Vaccine Delivery Delays | Society

The bitter battle between Brussels and the Anglo-Swedish company AstraZeneca finally concludes with a cordial entente. The two parties, confronted from the beginning of the vaccination campaign due to the delay in the delivery of doses of the drug against covid-19, have reached an agreement this Friday with which they shelve the judicial dispute. The pharmaceutical company is committed to following a timetable to make 200 million doses available to the Member States before the end of the first quarter of 2022 and agrees to lower the price in case of incurring further delays. Both contenders have expressed their satisfaction with the pact.

The fight between the two parties began even before the laboratory injections were approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in January of this year, and gradually worsened until it reached a gruff tone. that announced a storm. In April, while the European immunization strategy was harshly criticized for its timid start, something that the European Commission attributed in part to the delays in AstraZeneca’s production lines, Brussels decided to step forward and demand compliance in court. of the contract.

It promised to be one of those movie trials: long, complex, labyrinthine and with a certain epic tone. In June, after two dog-face hearings at the Brussels Palace of Justice, the Commission scored a first partial victory, when the court of first instance granted part of the requested precautionary measures: although it did not satisfy all their demands, it forced the company to supply 50 million doses before September 27 and threatened a fine of 10 euros for each vaccine not delivered. After the hearing on the precautionary measures, this September the trial on the merits of the non-compliance or not of the rights and obligations derived from the contract signed between the Commission and AstraZeneca was scheduled to begin. But the sealed deal ends the battle.

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The settlement agreement provides for AstraZeneca’s commitment to deliver, in addition to the nearly 100 million doses delivered through the end of the second quarter, a fairly precise schedule: 60 million doses before the end of the third quarter; 75 million by the end of the fourth quarter and the remaining doses (65 million) by the end of March 2022. In total, 200 million more. In this way, the final number of the 300 million punctures agreed in the contract signed in August 2020 would be reached.

The pact also contemplates that the laboratory apply to the Twenty-seven limited discounts in the price of each dose delivered after the deadline: 10% for a one-month delay, 25% if it is two months and 40% in case of a delay. delay of three months or more. The price agreed with the EU, according to the contract leaked by the RAI, would be 2.90 euros per dose, an amount set without profit by the laboratory. An AstraZeneca spokesperson explains that he does not believe the rebates will have to be applied anyway: “We are convinced that the doses will arrive on time.”

The European Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides, has made the pact, which will facilitate the arrival of vials to some of the European countries that lag behind in the immunization of their population, such as Romania and Bulgaria: “Although this week we have reached the important milestone of the complete vaccination of 70% of the adult population of the EU , there are significant differences in vaccination rates between our member states, and the continued availability of vaccines, including those from AstraZeneca, remains crucial, ”he said in a statement.

In any case, now that the European vaccine strategy is essentially focused on the supply of vials from BioNTech-Pfizer, with whom a third contract for 1.8 billion doses has been signed until 2023, both AstraZeneca and Brussels are aware that a good part of the vials that remain to be delivered will be donated to the Covax alliance, a mechanism linked to the World Health Organization to guarantee global access to immunization.

“As the staunchest advocate for global vaccine cooperation and solidarity, we will continue to help the rest of the world,” Kyriakides said. “Our goal is to share at least 200 million doses of vaccines through Covax with low- and middle-income countries by the end of this year.”

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