AstraZeneca says it will meet with EC officials

28 January 2021
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In a last-minute development, AstraZeneca said it has not withdrawn from vaccine talks with the European Union and plans to meet with Commission officials later Wednesday in Brussels.

According to the Associated Press, the company’s response came after European officials said the company withdrew from the third scheduled meeting between the two sides for clear explanations for the delay in the availability of vaccines. The Commission, however, pressured AstraZeneca to change its position and attend the meeting. At the same time, it was examining the legal weapons that Brussels has against the company.

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Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, which had agreed to sell Covid-19 vaccines to the EU, has refused to attend a meeting of top EU officials scheduled for Wednesday afternoon amid escalating disputes over production shortages, according to a Commission official.

The cancellation comes after an explosive interview with AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot on Tuesday night, in which he insisted the company had no contractual obligation, but rather an “optimal effort” to supply the EU with its vaccine.

Instead of the meeting, the company will respond in writing to the request of Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides for more information, said the Commission official. AstraZeneca did not immediately confirm this.

Meanwhile, there is mounting pressure in the public sphere for the publication of the contract signed between the two parties. According to the Commission, the company did have an “optimal effort” agreement on deliveries, but also signed a pre-purchase agreement, which included the obligation that the company has the manufacturing capabilities to deliver the installments.

The Commission, however, is pressuring AstraZeneca to change its position and attend the meeting, while it is also examining the legal weapons that Brussels can utilise the company.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, had set as a goal of the joint vaccination program 70% of EU citizens to have acquired immunity to SARS-Cov-2 by August 2021. It had been understood that 2 billion installments had been secured, based on contractual obligations, which would be made available to the 450 million EU citizens.

In fact, advances were made to the five pharmaceutical companies involved (Pfizer / BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi) to speed up the process of vaccine development.

However, based on the current data, the August target for the immunisation of 7 out of 10 EU citizens seems to be slipping away. Less than 8.5 million people have been vaccinated so far. The EU as a collective body, but also individual countries such as Italy, are on the brink of legal war with the pharmaceutical industry, which is constantly pushing back the delivery of vaccines.

The EU is protesting and pressuring the pharmaceutical industry in every possible way, threatening legal actions for the reimbursement of astronomical advances. The leadership of the EU is openly questioning the integrity of vaccine manufacturers and is considering tightening controls on exports to third countries, such as Britain.

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