EU publishes redacted AstraZeneca contract amid delivery row

(Update 1: Adds detail)

Brussels, Jan 29 (efe-epa).- The European Commission on Friday published a redacted version of its purchase agreement for Covid-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca amid an ongoing dispute over a delivery shortfall.

The row erupted after it emerged that the firm would only be able to deliver 25% of the vaccines earmarked for the EU in the first quarter of 2021.

The EU had a pre-order for 400 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, 100 million of which were due in Q1 of this year.

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen heaped further pressure on the company during a radio interview in Germany Friday morning, in which she said the company was contractually obliged to fulfill the agreed delivery.

“There are binding orders and the contract is crystal clear,” she told Deutschlandfunk.

EU sources said there were suspicions in Brussels that the firm had prioritized vaccine deliveries to third parties, believed to be a reference to the United Kingdom, where the company has two plants.

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot this week said the UK had received its order ahead of the EU because it had signed the purchase agreement three months earlier.

But the Commission has rejected this argument and von der Leyen stressed that AstraZeneca’s two UK plants were named in the contract alongside its Europe-based factories.

Another point of debate in the spat centered on the interpretation of the “best efforts” clause in the contract.

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