EU looks to sue AstraZeneca over jab

Published on Apr 23, 2021 12:33 AM IST

The Biden administration is weighing an appeal from progressive Democrats to accelerate global access to Covid-19 vaccines by supporting a waiver of IPR protections, a move opposed by big drugmakers.

The EU executive informed member state envoys of its plans on Wednesday, the diplomats told AFP, confirming information first published by the Politico website.(AP)
The EU executive informed member state envoys of its plans on Wednesday, the diplomats told AFP, confirming information first published by the Politico website.(AP)
Agencies | , Brussels, Washington

The European Commission is looking to launch legal action against AstraZeneca for under-delivering Covid-19 vaccine doses to the EU, hobbling the bloc’s early roll-out of jabs, diplomats said on Thursday.

The EU executive informed member state envoys of its plans on Wednesday, the diplomats told AFP, confirming information first published by the Politico website.

They said any lawsuit against AstraZeneca would begin in a Belgian court - the jurisdiction agreed under the commission’s contract with the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company.

A European Commission spokesman, Eric Mamer, told journalists that “no decision has yet been taken”. Another spokesman, Stefan De Keersmaecker, added, “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.”

AstraZeneca has so far delivered 31 million of the 120 million doses it had promised. It has warned it will likewise provide just 70 million of the 180 million more meant to be delivered over the rest of this year.

US weekly jobless claims fall to one-year low

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits last week dropped to a one-year low, suggesting layoffs were subsiding and strengthening expectations for another month of job growth in April.

But the labour market recovery has a long way to go, with the report from the labour department showing at least 17.4mn people were collecting unemployment checks in early April.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits decreased 39,000 to a seasonally adjusted 547,000 for the week ended April 17, the lowest since mid-March 2020.

Pressure on US to lift IPR protections on vaccines

The Biden administration is weighing an appeal from progressive Democrats to accelerate global access to Covid-19 vaccines by supporting a waiver of IPR protections, a move opposed by big drugmakers.

Lawmakers last week called on President Joe Biden to back a proposal before the WTO that seeks a broad waiver from obligations on the protection of IP rights. The lawmakers and allies including labour unions argue that the plan - backed by India, South Africa, and more than 50 other countries - would save more lives.

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