C: Houses of the Oireachtas

Donnelly says EU has taken legal case against AstraZeneca – EU says ‘No we haven’t’

The EU Commission has confirmed that they have not initiated legal action against AstraZeneca for vaccine shortfalls, after Stephen Donnelly told the Dáil the bloc had.

“The European Commission has initiated a legal case over AstraZeneca,” Donnelly told the Dáil on Thursday during a discussion about Ireland’s vaccine rollout.

“Earlier this week I joined Ireland as one of the parties to that legal case specifically relating to AstraZeneca’s complete failure to meet its contractual delivery agreements for April, May and June.”

However, a European Commission spokesperson for health, Stefan de Keersmaecker, told RTÉ News that “a decision to launch legal actions against the company has not been taken at this point in time.”

“As you know, AstraZeneca is not delivering the number of doses which have been agreed upon in the contract…This is one of the reasons why we keep our options open together with member states to take any further steps.”

Additionally, Eric Mamer, a spokesperson for the European Commission, said that “no decision has yet been taken”.

To date, a case is reportedly in the process of being prepared, and may proceed in the future, but there is currently no legal case between the European Commission and AstraZeneca relating to vaccine shortages.

Back in February, Gript asked the Department of Health if pharmaceutical companies contracted to deliver covid-19 vaccines had been indemnified from penalties due to late or non-delivery of vaccine shipments.

“Ireland is currently involved in an EU Procurement Exercise being operated by the European Commission on behalf of member states to procure a portfolio of suitable, safe and effective vaccines, in sufficient quantities, to combat COVID-19,” the Department said in a statement.

“As part of the exercise, Ireland has already opted into an Advance Purchase Agreement (APA) with AstraZeneca (partnering with Oxford University); Janssen (Johnson & Johnson); BioNTech / Pfizer; CureVac and Moderna.

“The content of the Advance Purchase Agreements, including with regard to liability / indemnity, are negotiated with vaccine suppliers by the European Commission and its negotiation team acting on behalf of Member States. Member States may decide to opt in / opt out, but do not have scope to recast the provisions of any APA.”

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