EPA


EU demands €10 a day for each vaccine dose delayed by AstraZeneca

The EU is demanding 10 euros for each day of delay for every individual dose of vaccine as penalties for each breach of contract with AstraZeneca. Brussels took the British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant to a Belgian court in April after AstraZeneca said it would only supply 100m vaccines by the end of June, rather than the 300m jabs promised in the contract. The commission now wants the company to deliver at least 120m doses by the end of June and has demanded UK-manufactured AstraZeneca jabs to hit that target or face the daily fine. “AstraZeneca did not even try to respect the contract," lawyer Rafael Jafferali, told the Brussels court in the first hearing on the substance of the legal case. Lawyers added that they also want 10 million euros as penalties for each breach of the contract that the judge may decide. A verdict is expected next month. Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, has repeatedly blamed AstraZeneca shortfalls for the initially slow pace of the EU’s vaccination roll-out. The Commission also accuses AstraZeneca of failing to provide enough notice for the large cuts in deliveries. The company insists it is not in breach of its contract, which it says only requires it to make "best reasonable efforts" in delivering doses. Its lawyers will address the court later. AstraZeneca’s contract with the UK gives it first refusal on UK-manufactured jabs, which further increased Brexit tensions between Britain and the EU at the start of the year, which were exacerbated by the successful British roll-out. There were also suspicions in Berlin and Brussels that some EU-reserved stock had ended up in the UK. Mr Jafferali said that the “best reasonable efforts” principle was not respected because the drugmaker had not delivered the 50m doses produced in the factories listed in the contracts, which includes the two British plants.

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US CDC investigates reports of heart inflammation in young Covid vaccine recipients

Some teenagers and young adults who received Covid vaccines experienced heart inflammation, a US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention advisory group said, recommending further study of the rare condition. The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices in a statement dated May 17 said it had looked into reports that a few young vaccine recipients - predominantly male, adolescents and young adults - developed myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. The condition often goes away without complications and can be caused by a variety of viruses, the CDC group said. CDC monitoring systems had not found more cases than would be expected in the population, but members of the committee on vaccinations felt that healthcare providers should be made aware of the reports of the "potential adverse event", the committee said. It did not say how many people had been affected and recommended further investigation. Dr Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security, said vaccines are known to cause myocarditis and it would be important to monitor to see if it is causally related to the vaccine. It is important to look at the risk-benefit ratio, he said: "Vaccines are going to unequivocally be much more beneficial outweighing this very low, if conclusively established, risk." The CDC said the cases typically occurred within four days after receiving the mRNA vaccines. It did not specify which vaccines. The United States has given emergency authorisation to two mRNA vaccines, from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech. Israel's Health Ministry in April said it was examining a small number of cases of heart inflammation in people who had received Pfizer's vaccine, although it had not yet drawn any conclusions. Most of the cases in Israel were reported among people up to age 30. Pfizer at the time said it had not observed a higher rate of the condition than would normally be the case in the general population and that a causal link to the vaccine had not been established. Pfizer and Moderna did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Saturday. The CDC in late April, after news of the Israeli investigation, said it did not see a link between the two. Earlier this month US regulators expanded authorisation of Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine to children aged 12 to 15.

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