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Extracts from AstraZeneca contract released – and EU refuses to budge

Written by on 29/01/2021

The European Commission’s position remains the same – that AstraZeneca has breached its contract and is dodging its responsibility for proving tens of millions of vaccine doses to European countries.

Within dozens of pages of technical language, sources point to a few sentences that they consider crucial.

Firstly is clause 5.4, which I suspect will be the focus of a great deal of attention in the coming days.

Here the company agrees to make its “best reasonable efforts” to make doses at sites “located within the EU”.

But it goes on to say that, for this clause, the EU “shall include the United Kingdom”.

In other words, say EU lawyers, you can’t differentiate between production facilities on mainland Europe and those in the UK.

Then, later in the contract, is a heavily redacted page named “Schedule A”.

More from UK

AstraZeneca commits to using its 'best reasonable efforts' to make its vaccine in the EU in the contract
Image: AstraZeneca commits to using its ‘best reasonable efforts’ to make its vaccine in the EU in the contract

It lists the countries where the “substance manufacturing” and the “product manufacturing” will be done.

Both sections include the UK as sites that will be part of the European Commission’s contract.

EU sources are adamant the contract backs up their long-standing contention that AstraZeneca breached the contention.

The EU has made parts of its contract with AstraZeneca public
Image: The EU has made parts of its contract with AstraZeneca public

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And they also insist that they are happy for even more details to enter the public domain, claiming that 95% of the redactions made to the document were demanded by the company, and not by the EU.

The company is likely to point to the various caveats about “best reasonable efforts” and to reiterate that the UK invested earlier, and ordered its doses several months earlier.

The EU maintains its contract makes no mention of, and does not allow, preferential treatment.

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Watch COVID Crisis: Learning the Lessons at 8pm on 9, 10 and 11 February

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