Covid-19 roundup: European Fee’s authorized battle towards AstraZeneca begins; Kazakhstan offers inexperienced mild to home vaccine

The Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion’s le­gal case against As­traZeneca for fail­ing to de­liv­er the amount of vac­cine dos­es laid out in a con­tract be­gan in a Brus­sels court on Wednes­day, ac­cord­ing to Reuters. 

The EC re­quest­ed im­me­di­ate de­liv­er­ies from all fac­to­ries list­ed in the con­tract, in­clud­ing ones in Britain, the news agency re­port­ed. It’s been two days since the EC an­nounced it would take le­gal ac­tion.

The dis­pute be­gan back in Jan­u­ary, when As­traZeneca in­formed the EU that it wouldn’t be able to de­liv­er the promised num­ber of dos­es laid out in a sup­ply con­tract due to pro­duc­tion lags. The con­tract al­lowed for the pur­chase of 300 mil­lion dos­es, with an op­tion for 100 mil­lion more. But on­ly 30 mil­lion were de­liv­ered in Q1 2021, and As­traZeneca promised 70 mil­lion in Q2, as op­posed to the 180 mil­lion that had been promised.

The EU pub­lished a heav­i­ly redact­ed ver­sion of the con­tract in an ef­fort to fos­ter trans­paren­cy. But af­ter in­ter­net sleuths and Ger­man jour­nal­ists found the blacked-out sec­tions could be eas­i­ly re­moved, the EU pub­licly apol­o­gized.

CEO Pas­cal So­ri­ot has as­sert­ed the con­tracts are not legal­ly bind­ing due to a “best ef­fort” clause in the text.

As­traZeneca said in a state­ment Mon­day that al­most 50 mil­lion dos­es are com­ing by the end of April, which it said is “in line with our fore­cast.”

“As­traZeneca deeply re­grets the de­ci­sion of the Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion to start this le­gal ac­tion in re­la­tion with the COVID-19 sup­ply agree­ment. We hope to re­solve this dis­pute as soon as pos­si­ble,” com­pa­ny lawyer Hakim Boular­bah said in court, per Reuters.

Two more hear­ings are sched­uled on May 26, and a judge is ex­pect­ed to de­cide on the case in June, Reuters re­port­ed.

Kaza­khstan gives green light to vac­cine be­fore it com­pletes test­ing

Kaza­khstan is rolling out its own Covid-19 shot, dubbed Qaz­Vac, be­fore it has com­plet­ed Phase III test­ing.

“The first batch of Qaz­Vac vac­cine ar­rived in the re­gions of the coun­try,” pres­i­dent Kassym-Jo­mart Tokayev tweet­ed on April 23. “Vac­cine pro­duc­tion will be in­creased to make it avail­able to all cit­i­zens.”

The vac­cine, de­vel­oped by the Re­search In­sti­tute for Bi­o­log­i­cal Safe­ty Prob­lems, en­tered a Phase I/II tri­al in Kaza­khstan back in Sep­tem­ber. Sci­en­tist Lep­ek Ku­tum­be­tov re­port­ed­ly test­ed it on him­self, then told the state-owned me­dia or­ga­ni­za­tion Kaz­in­form it is “harm­less.”

Since then, the re­search in­sti­tute has said that all 222 par­tic­i­pants in the first two stages of test­ing have de­vel­oped im­mu­ni­ty, with no ma­jor side ef­fects, ac­cord­ing to Reuters. A 3,000-per­son Phase III tri­al is ex­pect­ed to wrap up in Ju­ly.

Near­ly a mil­lion cit­i­zens have al­ready been vac­ci­nat­ed with Rus­sia’s Sput­nik V, and the coun­try has or­dered a mil­lion dos­es of Chi­na’s Sinopharm vac­cine, Reuters re­port­ed.

For a look at all End­points News coro­n­avirus sto­ries, check out our spe­cial news chan­nel.

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