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Boxes of AstraZeneca vaccines are seen in cold storage in Oss, Netherlands on April 6.
Boxes of AstraZeneca vaccines are seen in cold storage in Oss, Netherlands on April 6. Rob Engelaar/ANP/AFP/Getty Images

The European Commission will take further legal action against AstraZeneca over delayed shipments of its Covid-19 vaccines on Tuesday, an EU spokesperson said in a statement on Monday. 

Stefan De Keersmaecker, European Commission spokesperson for health, food safety and transport, said: “The second lawsuit concerns the merits of the case: on the basis of the provisions of the Advance Purchase Agreement [APA], the Commission requests the Court to adjudicate whether AstraZeneca has violated the APA.” 

“Tomorrow, the introductory hearing will take place. The Court is expected to fix the deadlines for the submission of trial briefs and hearings,” he added. 

On April 26, the EU announced it was suing AstraZeneca over an alleged breach of its vaccine supply contract, a dramatic escalation of a months-long dispute over delivery delays that hampered the rollout of shots across the continent. 

The 27 nations of the European Union had ordered 300 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from the British-Swedish drugmaker to be delivered by the end of June, with an option to purchase an additional 100 million. But deliveries of the vaccine repeatedly fell short, sparking a bitter public fight over the terms of the contract. 

In his statement on Monday, De Keersmaecker said that the first case was an emergency injunction while the second is a lawsuit on the merits of the case.  

Regarding that first lawsuit, he said, “Given the urgent need of vaccine doses to continue the vaccination in the Member States, the Commission asked the court to require the company to deliver a sufficient number of doses. The court will only make a preliminary assessment of the case and assess whether there is an emergency to deliver doses. The hearing in this case will take place on 26 May.” 

He said the objective of the commission is the same through both lawsuits, that is, “ensuring, through legal actions, the delivery of a sufficient number of doses for the European citizens.”