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What is the next step for AstraZeneca and the EU?

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It may be Swedes and led by the French, but AstraZeneca has become an issue of divergence between Britain and the European Union, almost as painful as Brexit.

The UK-based pharmaceutical group is highly regarded in the country for bringing Oxford University’s Covid-19 vaccine to the world without profit and helping the country achieve one of the fastest rollouts. It was demonized as an untrustworthy vaccine supplier in the European Union. Due to doubts about its effectiveness and safety, the vaccine has been abandoned or banned in some member states.

In this atmosphere, last week’s The ruling of the Brussels court Its subtleties are shocking.This Main result It is clear: After its vaccine delivery was repeatedly blocked, the European Commission asked AstraZeneca to speed up the progress or pay a punitive fine. The court did not award.

However, the court did find that AstraZeneca “seriously violated” the contract and violated its “best effort” commitment to supply 300 million doses of vaccine to the EU, especially because it did not send any doses to the EU. British manufacturing base. The judge also ordered the company to pay 70% of the modest court fee bill.

It looks a lot like the European Union won in theory, while AstraZeneca won in practice. But the committee disputed this: “The actual impact is that they will have to provide a dose from the UK,” a committee lawyer said. AstraZeneca continues to dispute this.

This is not the end of the legal battle. The September hearing will reconsider whether AstraZeneca should use its UK plant to supply products to the European Union. The company has indicated that it has notified the committee that this will only happen after the UK order is completed. The Brussels court ruled that this was irrelevant because the warning was not included in the final contract. The next decision may be different.

The committee also sued for extensive information about which doses were manufactured in which locations and where they were sent. The purpose is to collect more evidence to prove that AstraZeneca has caused unfair and adverse effects on the EU.

Next year, the Commission will also hear a separate claim for damages. How to quantify these? When the contract was signed last year, AstraZeneca stated that it would deliver 300 million doses by the end of this month. It looks like it will only provide a quarter. The shortage is equivalent to months of delays, deaths and economic losses. Instead, it prioritizes the United Kingdom. It is not surprising that EU officials are angry. It seems fair to think that any damage could be astronomical.

Interestingly, in this case, the committee is not in a hurry to raise the temperature. “It is too early to quantify the claims on the merits of the case at this stage. We do not want to release figures that may cause damage to AstraZeneca,” said the second lawyer representing the committee.

As far as AstraZeneca is concerned, it would argue that quantifying damages is not only premature, but also impossible. Anyone who tries must only focus on a small portion of the British production that the court believes should go to the EU.

It is still possible for both sides to achieve a more decisive victory. However, the fact is that the EU’s legal position is very different from the local situation. In court, the committee claimed that it urgently needed the AstraZeneca vaccine. But in fact, member states are banning it, citizens are avoiding it, and unnecessary doses are accumulating. The supreme leader and honorary chief scientist Angela Merkel of the European Union received her second shot this week-her first shot was AstraZeneca, the latest is not.

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