World EU takes on AstraZeneca in court over vaccine deliveries
Taiwan blames China for slowing down its access to Covid-19 vaccines. The reality is more complicated
As countries ravaged by the coronavirus rushed to vaccinate their populations earlier this year, there was little sense of urgency to get inoculated in Taiwan. © Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock A medical frontline worker receives the AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) COVID-19 vaccine at a hospital in New Taipei, Taiwan, 20 May 2021. Hundreds of medical frontline workers received the vaccine amidst the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Taiwan.
BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union took on vaccine producer AstraZeneca in a Brussels court on Wednesday with the urgent demand that the company needs to make an immediate delivery of COVID-19 shots the bloc insists were already due.
AstraZeneca’s contract signed with the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, on behalf of member states foresaw an initial 300 million doses for distribution among all 27 countries, with an option for a further 100 million. The doses were expected to be delivered throughout 2021. But only 30 million were sent during the first quarter.
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Natural News picked up the false claim from a familiar source of pandemic misinformation: Red-rated website Great Game India, which in January 2020 also spread a different falsehood that the COVID-19 virus was stolen from a Canadian lab. The single source of evidence cited by both websites was the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS, a database jointly run for 31 years by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Its purpose: to be "a national early warning system to detect possible safety problems in U.S.-licensed vaccines," according to its website.
Deliveries have increased slightly since then but, according to the European Commission, the company is set to provide only 70 million doses in the second quarter. It had promised 180 million.
EU lawyer Rafael Jafferali told the court that the company now expects to deliver the total number of doses by the end of December, but he added that “with a six-month delay, it’s obviously a failure."
EU and AstraZeneca battle in court over vaccine delays
The European Commission will confront drugs giant AstraZeneca in a Belgian court on Wednesday over coronavirus vaccine delivery shortfalls that hampered efforts to kickstart inoculations across the bloc. - 'Not in the contract' - The commission, which has been responsible for procuring vaccines for all of the bloc, initially intended to use the AstraZeneca jab as the main workhorse to power the EU's inoculation drive.Lawyers for both sides are due to appear before a judge in the French-speaking court in Brussels from 09:00 am (0700 GMT). Another hearing is scheduled for Friday, the court said.
His main argument is that AstraZeneca should have used production sites in the bloc and the U.K. for EU supplies as part of a "best reasonable effort” clause in the contract. He said that 50 million doses that should have been delivered to the EU went to third countries instead, “in violation” of their contract.
Jafferali has said that the company should use all four plants listed in their contract for deliveries to the EU.
He also accused the company of misleading the European Commission by providing data lacking clarity on the delivery delays.
“The information provided by AstraZeneca did not allow us to fully understand the situation before mid-March 2021,” he said.
The EU has insisted its gripes with the company are about deliveries only and has repeatedly said that it has no problems with the safety or quality of the vaccine itself. The shots have been approved by the European Medicines Agency, the EU's drug regulator.
EU and AstraZeneca battle in court over vaccine delays
The European Union accused AstraZeneca of a "flagrant violation" of its contract to rapidly build-up coronavirus production capacity in the bloc, as it began legal action against the drugs giant Wednesday. In total, "50 million doses were diverted to third countries in flagrant violation of the contract".The EU member states and their executive, the European Commission, brought the case before a court in Brussels, the union having signed its supply agreement with the British and Swedish firm under Belgian law.
While the bloc insists AstraZeneca has breached its contractual obligations, the company says it has fully complied with the agreement, arguing that vaccines are difficult to manufacture and it made its best effort to deliver on time.
Lawyers for the company will address the court later Wednesday.
As part of an advanced purchase agreement with vaccine companies, the EU said it invested 2.7 billion euros ($3.8 billion), including 336 million ($408 million), to finance the production of AstraZeneca’s serum at four factories.
The long-standing dispute drew media attention for weeks earlier this year amid a deadly surge of coronavirus infections in Europe, when delays in vaccine production and deliveries hampered the EU’s vaccination campaign.
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A viral video inaccurately claims the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine makes people Bluetooth connectable. There is no evidence to support this.One recent viral video is promoting the absurd claim that the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine makes recipients Bluetooth connectable. The video, originally posted on TikTok by the account @al_janabi, has since been removed from TikTok but is still spreading on Instagram and Facebook.
Cheaper and easier to use than rival shots from Pfizer-BioNTech, the AstraZeneca vaccine developed with Oxford University was a pillar of the EU's vaccine rollout. But the EU’s partnership with the firm quickly deteriorated amid accusations it favored its relationship with British authorities.
While the U.K. made quick progress in its vaccination campaign thanks to the AstraZeneca shots, the EU faced embarrassing complaints and criticism for its slow start.
Concerns over the pace of the rollout across the EU grew after AstraZeneca said it couldn't supply EU members with as many doses as originally anticipated because of production capacity limits.
Morocco moves to vaccinate prison inmates 45 and up
SALE, Morocco (AP) — About 300 inmates in a prison near the Moroccan capital have been vaccinated against COVID-19, among the latest prisoners to benefit from a vaccination campaign that authorities say reflects a commitment to protect a population considered especially vulnerable. Inmates age 45 and older lined up Wednesday for AstraZeneca vaccine shots at Al Arjat 1 prison in Sale, where both men and women are incarcerated. “From the start ofInmates age 45 and older lined up Wednesday for AstraZeneca vaccine shots at Al Arjat 1 prison in Sale, where both men and women are incarcerated.
The health situation has dramatically improved in Europe in recent weeks, with the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths on a sharp downward trend as vaccination has picked up. About 300 million doses of vaccine have been delivered in Europe — a region with around 450 million inhabitants, with about 245 million already administered.
About 46% of the EU population have had at least one dose.
In total, the European Commission has secured more than 2.5 billion of vaccine doses with various manufacturers. It recently sealed another major order with Pfizer and BioNTech through 2023 for an additional 1.8 billion doses of their COVID-19 shot to share between the bloc’s countries.
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The Food and Drug Administration is working with shot makers to ensure doses manufactured by contractor Emergent BioSolutions are safe to use.The agency requested the analyses because it cannot rule out low-level contamination of doses of both vaccines manufactured by contractor Emergent BioSolutions.
Following Wednesday’s hearing, a second one is slated for Friday, with a judgment to be delivered at a date to be announced. In addition to the emergency action, the European Commission has launched a claim on the merits of the case for damages for which a hearing hasn't yet been set by the court.
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