AstraZeneca repeats the move used with the EU in its vaccine contract with the UK

The drugmaker also included the “best possible efforts” formula to avoid being forced to meet delivery deadlines.

One dose of AstraZeneca vaccine, at the Colombo Infectious Diseases Hospital.

AstraZeneca repeats the play. The tension between the European Commission and the pharmaceutical company reached a new milestone with the publication of the contract by the European Union. During the debate, the formula “Best possible efforts” in delivering doses it elicited diverse interpretations in each of the parts. Now the discussion has been reopened in the United Kingdom, as AstraZeneca included the same statement in the contract signed with the British authorities, leaving the agreed delivery in the air.

On this occasion, British officials have refused to disclose the agreement signed with the pharmaceutical company, according to CNN, as “give details on the country’s vaccine supplies ” claiming “security reasons”.

The media submitted a request to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which obtained in response a link to a 52-page contract in which omitted “details on the number of doses to be delivered to the UK ”as well as delivery dates.

The Administration defends that the document is public since November 26, although the chain assures that it is difficult to access it “without using precise search terms”, which is why, they conclude, “it seems to have gone unnoticed”.

This opacity of the contracts is reminiscent of the uncertainty experienced before the European Commission chose to make the contract with AstraZeneca public, which by means of a document with several crossed-out fragments, rejected the laboratory’s excuse for not meeting the agreed delivery deadlines.

Conflict of priorities

Then, the executive president of the laboratory, Pascal Soriot, maintained that the agreement “it was not a contractual commitment, but a best effort ”. A formula very similar to that found in the contract signed with the United Kingdom. However, the document includes the commitment signed by AstraZeneca to notify the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, at least 30 days before each delivery, with a “firm and final” schedule.

However, the controversy now centers on the priorities when meeting signed commitments. This was precisely one of the main reasons given by the European Union to publicize the contract.

The obligation signed with the EU

In fact, the document that the European Commission released was clear: the commitment of the pharmaceutical company to carry out its best productive effort referred both to the plants located in the European Union, as well as also both located in the United Kingdom, as well as others that may be located outside the Member States.

In this sense, AstraZeneca was committed to prioritizing the supply of vaccines to Europe. The so-called “best efforts” would then refer to the period prior to the approval of the vaccine. Once the pharmaceutical company received the go-ahead, the company was obliged to comply with the agreed terms.

It should be remembered that in the specific case of the United Kingdom, AstraZeneca received approval from the health authorities before the approval of the European Medicines Agency (EMA, for its acronym in English).

This is relevant, since according to CNN, Soriot claimed that the company had agreed to supply doses to the UK earlier than to other markets arguing that it was “fair enough”, as the British Administration had reached an agreement with AstraZeneca before the European Commission. Something that would collide with the date of the contract, which dates from August 28, just one day after it was signed with the European Union.