AstraZeneca cancels steering board meeting with EU

Vaccine-maker AstraZeneca has refused to attend a meeting top EU officials scheduled for Wednesday evening amid an escalating dispute over production shortfalls, according to a Commission official.

The cancellation follows an explosive interview with AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot on Tuesday night, in which he insisted the company didn’t have a contractual obligation but rather a “best effort” to supply the EU with its vaccine.

Instead of the meeting, the company will respond in writing to Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides’ demand for more information, the Commission official said. AstraZeneca did not immediately confirm this plan.

The Commission is demanding more information about the company’s projected 60 percent cut to the EU’s deliveries in the first quarter of 2021.

The Commission official said that the company did indeed have a “best effort” agreement on deliveries, but it signed an advance purchasing agreement that included the obligation that the company have the manufacturing capacity to deliver the doses.

Amid the bitter recriminations between the two sides — with Soriot accusing the EU of being “emotional” — the chairman of the European Parliament’s trade committee, Bernd Lange, has demanded that the contract be made public.

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