Coronavirus: Italy to take legal action over COVID vaccine delays

Cornelia Mascio
Gennaio 25, 2021

AstraZeneca said it would still be able to start delivering vaccines following the planned approval of the shot in Europe, a spokesperson said on Friday evening.

Italy will take legal action against Pfizer and Astrazeneca over delays in deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines with the aim of securing the doses rather than to seek damages, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Sunday.

Addressing the issue, the president of the European Council on Sunday said that the EU will force vaccine companies to respect the agreements they've made with the bloc. The European Medicines Agency is scheduled to review the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday. Following Pfizer's delay, Astrazeneca also informed European Union officials that its deliveries would be cut by 60-percent due to problems with production.

Although it was understandable there were problems, these needed to be understood fully, Michel said.

He also acknowledged it would be hard to meet the EU's goal to vaccinate 70 per cent of its adult population by summer.

The delay to the first batches of the AstraZeneca vaccine was met with "deep dissatisfaction" but the European Commission and EU member states alike.

Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte meanwhile said in a post to his Facebook page that the government was considering legal action against AstraZeneca's "unacceptable" announcement.

Some government officials however sought to reassure their countries - tired and battered by months of the pandemic and already on edge over slow vaccination rollouts.

The head of Italy's higher health council, Franco Locatelli, told a press conference they were expected to return to agreed levels from 1 February.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has the advantage of being cheaper to produce and being simpler to store and transport than its rivals.

"The 20-percent reduction in Pfizer vaccine supplies is not an estimation, but a sad certainty", he said, adding that Italians' health was not "negotiable".

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