COVID-19 Update: EU’s AstraZeneca Lawsuit, Johnson’s ‚Bodies Pile High‘ and Aid for India

Written by | Thursday, April 29th, 2021

The European Union has launched legal action against the pharmaceutical multinational AstraZeneca for failing to respect its contractual obligations for the supply of COVID-19 vaccines to the bloc, and for lacking a “reliable strategy” to ensure timely deliveries. European Commission spokesman Stefan De Keersmaecker said that “some terms of the contract have not been respected” and that “the company has not been in a position to come up with a reliable strategy to ensure a timely delivery of doses”. Responding to the EU’s lawsuit, AstraZeneca said it will „strongly defend itself in court,“ arguing that „any litigation is without merit.“ The British-Swedish company’s jab was envisaged as a central part of Europe’s mass immunisation campaign, and a linchpin in the global strategy to get coronavirus vaccines to poorer countries because it is cheaper and easier to use than vaccines produced by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. But Brussels and AstraZeneca have been at loggerheads over what the former alleges has been a shortfall of deliveries, a division that has in part hobbled early efforts to roll out jabs within the bloc.
Meanwhile, British prime minister has faced mounting pressure as Conservative insiders added weight to claims that Boris Johnson said “no more fucking lockdowns – let the bodies pile high in their thousands.” Faced with fury from relatives of the bereaved, Johnson himself and senior ministers denied he made this statement after reluctantly approving a second England-wide four-week lockdown in November last year. The government is also facing growing calls for a public inquiry into a pandemic that left the UK with one of the worst death tolls among major economies last year. The “let the bodies pile high” comments were shouted, according to one of the sources, from an office in Downing Street after a crunch meeting with ministers, rather than during the meeting. The source said they understood the comments to have been made in frustration and underlined that the prime minister went ahead with a third lockdown in January.
International aid, including from the EU and individual European countries, have been arriving in India, as the country’s healthcare is system pushed to the brink of collapse by a deadly second wave. As the South Asian country has recorded yet another day of over 300,000 new cases on Tuesday (27 April) and thousands of new deaths, on the same day, a flight from the UK carrying vital medical supplies including ventilators landed. Responding to the crisis unfolding in India, France has said they will send supplies to India via air and sea, including eight oxygen concentrators, containers of liquid oxygen and 28 respirators, while the German army pledged to provide a large oxygen production plant. The EU said it would be sending medicine and oxygen to India in the coming days. “The EU is pooling resources to respond rapidly to India’s request for assistance,” said Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European commission, on Twitter.

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