Capital Calls: EU’s vaccine feud is more political than financial

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A healthcare worker holds a dose of AstraZeneca's vaccine against coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during a pilot test which aims to apply 20,000 vaccines per day in coming months, at Fira de Montjuic in Barcelona, Spain, April 26, 2021.

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LONDON, April 26 (Reuters Breakingviews) - Concise insights on global finance.

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JAB JOSTLE. Europe’s legal battle with AstraZeneca (AZN.L) may be more about politics than money. The European Commission said on Monday it had launched a legal action against the $138 billion drug giant for not making good on its contract to supply Covid-19 vaccines, and not having a “reliable plan” to ensure delivery read more . AstraZeneca says the claim is without merit.

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The case may take years and rack up large legal bills. The fact the UK group is selling vaccines at cost, rather than for profit, may weaken Brussels’ case. The move also looks odd given Europe’s increasing preference for mRNA jabs, such as those developed by Pfizer (PFE.N) and BioNTech, for which it is about to secure up to 1.8 billion new doses. Member states are wary of AstraZeneca’s inoculation following cases of blood clots. But with Europe still trailing the United Kingdom and the United States in its vaccine programme, bashing AstraZeneca may keep other drugmakers in line, and show European Union citizens the commission has their back. (By Aimee Donnellan)

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