AstraZeneca and the European Commission and have reached a settlement on the delivery of pending COVID-19 vaccine doses by the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company, to end a dispute about shortages that had weighed on the company and the EU’s vaccination rollout.
The disagreement caused an uproar in the European Union earlier this year as member states were under pressure to speed up vaccinations. Legal proceedings by the European Commission against AstraZeneca were initiated in Brussels on 21 April 2021. Court hearings were scheduled at end of September 2021. The settlement which was announced on Friday will allow the EU to accelerate its inoculation campaigns. Major issues for AstraZeneca will also be resolved, as the company’s cheap and easily transportable COVID-19 vaccine has faced numerous setbacks, including the lawsuit and worries about reports of side effects.
Under the settlement, AstraZeneca has committed to deliver 60 million doses of its vaccine, Vaxzervria, by the end of Q3 in 2021. A further 75 million doses are to be delivered by the end of Q4 in 2021 and 65 million by the end of the first quarter of 2022.
Ruud Dobber, Executive Vice President, BioPharmaceuticals Business Unit, AstraZeneca, said:
“I’m very pleased that we have been able to reach a common understanding which allows us to move forward and work in collaboration with the European Commission to help overcome the pandemic. We are fully committed to manufacture Vaxzevria for Europe following the release for supply of more than 140 million doses to date at no profit. We are also looking forward to working with the European Commission in a joint effort to further support COVAX.”
European Union member states will be provided with regular delivery schedules, and capped rebates will apply in the event of any delayed Vaxzervria doses. To date, AstraZeneca and its partners have supplied more than 1.1 billion doses of vaccine to over 170 countries with approximately two-thirds having been distributed to low- and lower-middle-income countries.
EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides said:
“There are significant differences in vaccination rates between our member states, and the continued availability of vaccines, including AstraZeneca’s, remain crucial.”
The European Commission said this week that 70% of the EU’s adult population had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, hitting a target it had set at the beginning of the year. This means that at least 255 million people in the EU have received either two doses of Pfizer/BionTech, AstraZeneca, or Moderna vaccines, or one shot of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson jab.