Just a few weeks ago, Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca was welcomed for the speed with which it was developing its Covid-19 vaccine.
Experts announced the start of the sting as a turning point in the pandemic, not least because it is easier to transport and store than its Pfizer / BioNTech counterpart.
The Anglo-Swedish company also received praise for promising to provide the vaccine to low- and middle-income countries on a non-profit basis.
Now the vaccine has become a headache, with questions about its effectiveness and potential litigation over delays in delivery to the European Union.
On Friday, the European Commission released the contract it signed with the drug group, showing that AstraZeneca is committed to making 300 million doses of the vaccine.
The day before, at the request of the European Commission, an inspection of a Belgian plant where the vaccine was being made was carried out to investigate production problems at the site.
Italy suspended the prospect of legal action – which would also target Pfizer – to “get the promised doses back”.
The German Robert Koch Institute also questioned the effectiveness of the sting in those over 65 years of age and cited gaps in the test data.
All of these tensions came as the EU considered approving the AstraZeneca sting, which was issued on Friday. It was the third Covid vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency.
The Financial Times said on Friday that the “acidic” relationship with the EU “could harm the pharmaceutical company”.
“Neither side is doing particularly well,” CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson told AFP, adding that the disputes highlighted why “the prospect of vaccine nationalism is so worrying.”
He warned that “if the EU complies with its threat to impose export restrictions”, “countermeasures” by other nations like the UK could result if supplies are slow.
The contract with the EU provides that AstraZeneca has committed to “make its best efforts” to manufacture and distribute the cans.
David Greene, partner in the Edwin Coe law firm and president of the Law Society in the UK, said the contract remained “straightforward” even if the group failed to deliver the shot for profit.
He added that the contract with the EU is governed by Belgian law and, as such, “the only place where litigation can take place is in Belgium”.
If AstraZeneca fails to demonstrate that it is making “best efforts” to meet its obligations, Greene may have breached its contract and risked potential litigation.
However, Russ Mold, an analyst for online broker AJ Bell, said the financial ramifications of the recent spitting need to be put in context.
“The German questions about the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine and the apparent unwillingness of the US FDA to approve it are unfortunate and may not help the FTSE 100 company’s reputation, but many other countries seem happy to have it continue to use, “he said.
Mold added that the vaccine’s low price meant “the impact on earnings is likely to be limited,” and led a recent drop in the drug group’s share price on “investor concerns about the proposed purchase of (pharmaceuticals”) of 39 Billion dollars back fixed) Alexion “.
Susannah Streeter, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, believes the pandemic has allowed the group to gain expertise about vaccines that they have lacked in the past.
“The fact that it is so sought after that shipments have resulted in interstate spats is unlikely to result in long-term reputational damage,” she said.
“Instead, it is more likely to draw attention to the company’s significant contribution.”
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)