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Photo: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

The European Commission has launched legal proceedings against AstraZeneca for providing only a third of the supply of coronavirus vaccines agreed to in its contract, a spokesperson confirmed Monday.

Why it matters: It's the latest in a string of controversies related to the European Union's vaccine rollout, which has been plagued by supply shortages, a slow pace of distribution, and concerns about potential rare blood clots linked to AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

The state of play: AstraZeneca's contract with the EU committed the company to delivering 300 million doses by the end of June, according to Politico. AstraZeneca had sent 30 million doses to the bloc by the end of March, and is on pace to deliver just 70 million more by the end of June — a significant shortfall.

What they're saying: "Indeed the Commission has started last Friday a legal action against the company AstraZeneca on the [basis] of breaches of the advanced purchase agreement," European Commision spokesperson Stefan De Keersmaeker said.

  • "The reason indeed being the terms of the contract, or some terms of the contract, have not been respected, and the company has not been in a position to come up with a reliable strategy to ensure the timely delivery of doses."
  • "What matters is to us in this case is that we want to make sure that there is a speedy delivery of sufficient number of doses that the European citizens are entitled to and which have been promised on the basis of the contract.”

Between the lines: Some EU officials feared that bringing legal action against AstraZeneca would further damage the pharmaceutical company's reputation and do little to remedy the situation. But all 27 member states agreed to back the lawsuit last Friday, according to the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.

Go deeper

The E.U. will allow vaccinated Americans to visit this summer

Dome of Positano on the Amalfi Coast in Italy. Photo: Daniele Orsi/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The E.U. is planning to allow fully vaccinated Americans to visit and travel within its borders this summer, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the New York Times Sunday.

Why it matters: Von der Leyen didn't specify when the rules will officially be relaxed, but the prospect of opening up tourism to Americans displays a buoyed confidence in the both the American and E.U. vaccination campaigns.

Biden's 100-day numbers: Vaccinated Americans

Data: CDC via Our World in Data; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Joe Biden promised as president-elect to get 100 million coronavirus vaccine shots in American arms during his first 100 days in office; since taking office, he's more than doubled that goal — and more than a quarter of Americans are now fully vaccinated.

By the numbers: Not quite 1% were vaccinated when Biden took office, although the Trump administration managed to reach an important milestone of 1 million doses administered in a day.

Apr 26, 2021 - Health

The next wave of the pandemic: Long Covid

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The research is becoming only more clear: People who have had COVID — even those who never had severe infections — are at risk of ongoing health problems, including some serious ones.

Why it matters: Long after the majority of Americans are vaccinated, patients and the U.S. health system will likely bear the brunt of millions of people who are struggling to get back to normal.