Belgian MEP accuses AstraZeneca of ‘dishonesty’, ‘arrogance’ and misleading data in rant over EU deliveries
- Philippe Lamberts today launched a full-frontal attack on the UK-based firm
- Brussels has locked horns with AstraZeneca for not providing enough jabs
- EU chiefs today thrashed out plans to ban vaccine exports to high-jab countries
An EU politician has accused AstraZeneca of acting with ‘dishonesty’ and ‘arrogance’ in a dramatic escalation of the bloc’s row over vaccine supplies.
Belgian MEP Philippe Lamberts today launched a blistering attack on the UK-based company, which he said had ‘over-promised and under-delivered’ on doses.
He even appeared to cast doubt on AstraZeneca’s data and pointed to ‘potential problems’ with side-effects – despite the regulator declaring it safe.
Brussels has locked horns with AstraZeneca over the terms of its contract, which the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical firm denies breaching.
In an extraordinary move to buoy the Continent’s sluggish rollout, EU chiefs today thrashed out plans to ban vaccine exports to countries with high inoculation rates.
It means the UK – which has vaccinated over half its adult population compared to the EU’s 15 per cent – could be hit by the embargo.
Belgian MEP Philippe Lamberts today launched a full-frontal attack on the UK-based company, which he said had ‘over-promised and under-delivered’ on doses
The UK – which has vaccinated over half its adult population compared to the EU’s 15 per cent – could be hit by the embargo
‘The quarrel is not between the European Commission and the British Government,’ Mr Lamberts told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme earlier this morning.
‘It is between the Europeans and one of their suppliers [AstraZeneca] who have performed with a track record of dishonesty.
‘Over-promising and under-delivering by massive amounts, we all see that they have bungled up at least twice their test data. So everything points to a company that cannot be relied upon.’
AstraZeneca, which manufactures vaccines in the UK and on the Continent, has deals with both the UK and the EU.
While there have been hiccups with the production process, the EU accuses the firm of prioritising the British order at the bloc’s expense.
The UK ordered 100million doses from AstraZeneca three months before Brussels placed its order for 300million.
Mr Lamberts, a Green MEP, railed against AstraZeneca for not being ‘straightforward’ in its dealings with the bloc, in contrast to Pfizer and Moderna, with whom Brussels also has vaccine contracts.
‘They commit, they decommit, then they decommit on their new commitments without any warning,’ he said.
He added the firm had displayed an ‘inability to deliver, combined with a form of arrogance towards the EU as a customer’.
In an extraordinary move to buoy the Continent’s sluggish rollout, EU chiefs (Commission president Ursula von der Leyen pictured) today thrashed out plans to ban vaccine exports to countries with high inoculation rates
The EU’s insistence it receives more doses has raised eyebrows following reports that European stockpiles were going unused due to low take-up rates.
European leaders have poured doubt on the veracity of the AstraZeneca jab, including French President Emmanuel Macron.
Mr Lamberts admitted that many member states have a poor track record on their vaccine rollouts.
But he added: ‘We obviously have also to do our job, but that does not exonerate suppliers of fulfilling their commitments regardless of what the customer does with their wares.
‘The right way to deal with that would be for the British Government, the EU Commission and AstraZeneca at the highest levels to get together and try to find a mutually agreeable solution.’
Mr Lamberts added the vaccine, developed at Oxford University, has ‘potential problems’ with side-effects, despite regulators ruling it is safe.
This chart shows how the AstraZeneca supply chain looks across Europe
Earlier this month multiple EU countries suspended use of the AstraZeneca jab after a handful of recipients – out of millions – experienced blood clotting.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) conducted a review and ruled it was safe, prompting a screeching U-turn by most countries.
Speaking to he said: ‘The EU Medicines Agency has said, even if there are problems, the advantages of the vaccine outweigh the potential problems that we are seeing.’
He made the comments after criticising the pharmaceutical company for allegedly misleading the EU over its ability to deliver on orders, but said some EU politicians have been ‘over the top’ in their response to concerns about cases of blood clots.
But he further accused the UK-based firm of putting out misleading test data.
‘My quarrel with AstraZeneca is on test data, and that dates back from the autumn and it has surfaced in the US recently,’ he said.
Mr Lamberts said he is also angry about AstraZeneca’s alleged ‘inability to deliver, combined with a form of arrogance towards the EU as a customer’.
AstraZeneca declined to comment.
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