EU demands AstraZeneca contract after delays

The European Union is asking pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca to publish its COVID-19 contract on vaccine supplies, in the latest escalation of the on-going dispute over its delivery timetable.

The move comes after AstraZeneca’s CEO said on Tuesday that the EU contract was based on a best-effort clause and did not commit the company to a specific schedule.

An EU official said that the best-effort clause was standard in contracts for products that are in development and don't yet exist.

AstraZeneca previously announced that it would cut supplies to the EU in the first quarter.

An EU official told Reuters last week that that amounted to a 60% reduction to 31 million doses.

Vaccine rollouts in the European Union have been slow and fraught with problems compared with other countries, including former EU member Britain.

The EU contract with AstraZeneca is an advance purchase agreement for the supply of at least 300 million doses provided that the vaccine is approved as safe and effective.