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The Daily Brief: EU Sues AstraZeneca Over COVID Vaccine Delays

The European Union is Suing AstraZeneca Over an Alleged Breach of Their Vaccine Supply Contract

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EU Sues AstraZeneca Over COVID Vaccine Delays

Summary:

  • After months of dispute between the European Union and AstraZeneca over COVID-19 vaccine delays, the EU has now sued the pharmaceutical company for breach of their vaccine supply contract.
  • The EU ordered 300 million doses of the vaccine from AstraZeneca, with an option to buy 100 million additional doses.
  • The order was meant to be delivered from December 2020 to June 2021, however deliveries of the vaccine repeatedly fell short causing the EU to file a lawsuit against AstraZeneca in Brussels on Friday.
  • Stefan De Keersmaecker, a spokesperson for the European Commission, has stated that the bloc’s decision is “due to the continuous breach of the terms of the contract and to the lack of a reliable strategy by [AstraZeneca] to ensure the timely supply of vaccines in the current circumstances.”
  • Keersmaecker also added that the EU will  not opt to buy an additional 100 million doses from AstraZeneca.
  • AstraZeneca replied in a statement expressing regret at the EU’s decision to take legal action, and maintains that the company “has fully complied with the Advance Purchase Agreement with the European Commission and will strongly defend itself in court.”
  • In March of 2021 AstraZeneca announced that it was aiming to send 70 million doses of the COVID vaccine to the European Union over the first half of the year, just ⅓ of the original 300 million doses expected to be delivered.
  • Sources:

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King Salman of Saudi Arabia Invites Qatar’s Emir For Visit

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Jim Mattis, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Former rivals, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, show signs of improving relations as Saudi King Salman sends a letter of invitation to Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
  • The Gulf state had land, sea, and air blockades from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt after Riyadh and others cut ties with Qatar in 2017.
  • However, this January the blockading countries began amending ties with Qatar after former United States President Donald Trump conducted a whirlwind of diplomatic activities.
  • It is unclear if the Emir accepted the invitation conveyed by Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah al-Saud.
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Aid Worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe Sentenced to an Additional Year in Jail

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MrZeroPage, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Iran’s court has sentenced British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to another year in jail just as she completed her prior five year sentence.
  • Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager for the Thomson Reuters Foundation charity, was given a five year sentence for plotting to overthrow Iran’s government in 2016; her family completely denies all claims stating she was simply visiting relatives in Iran.
  • Antonio Zappulla, the Thomson Reuters Foundation charity’s CEO, stated “Nazanin’s ordeal should have ended on March 7, 2021. Instead, she continues to be held as a political hostage in Tehran, a victim of an international dispute, the decision to jail Nazanin for an additional year must be challenged by the UK government.”
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Three Hour Long Tape of Iranian Foreign Minister Released

Mohammad Javad Zarif MSC 2018
Barth / MSC, CC BY 3.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons
  • A three hour long tape in which Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif discusses Iranian politics and internal decisions, has been leaked, stirring controversy and shock. Zarif has stated the original interview was seven hours long, and that the tape was edited for political motives.
  • In the tapes Zarif reveals the following: the Revolutionary Guard has extreme influence in diplomatic decisions, Russia tried to prevent the 2015 nuclear deal to hinder Iran’s relationship with Western countries, General Qasem Soleimani sent Iranian troops to Syria at Russia’s request, and many more internal affairs.
  • The tape has been released before presidential elections, in which there was speculation of Zarif running, and this is believed to be an attempt to prevent his candidacy. The tape also comes amidst ongoing negotiations regarding the return to a nuclear deal.
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US Imposes Sanctions on Two Politicians in Guatemala

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  • The US imposed sanctions on a current member of Guatemala’s Congress and the chief of staff of former Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom for interfering with the “selection process for magistrates to Guatemala’s Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) and Court of Appeals.”
  • The sanctions freeze any US properties, entities or assets that either of the men hold. The sanctions were made in coordination with the United Kingdom in an attempt to fight corruption.
  • The announcement was made hours before US Vice President Kamala Harris’ virtual meeting with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei regarding the influx of migrants at the US border. The sanctions were not mentioned in the meeting.

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All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Credit Suisse Found Guilty for Involvement in Money Laundering Scheme

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800px Credit Suisse Zurich
  • Switzerland’s Federal Criminal Court found Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second largest bank, guilty for its involvement in a money laundering scheme involving a Bulgarian drug trafficking gang.
  • The bank is being fined 21 million Swiss francs ($22 million) due to its poor monitoring and implementation of anti-money laundering rules. More than 12 million francs worth of assets are also being confiscated due to their connection with the criminal group.
  • Credit Suisse has denied any wrongdoings and stated that it has been “continuously testing its anti-money laundering framework and has been strengthening it over time, in accordance with evolving regulatory standards.”
  • This case originated from actions taken by a former employee in 2007 and 2008, and two other Bulgarian citizens’ actions in 2005 and 2009. Some of their sentences and fines were suspended due to the amount of time passed since the crimes took place.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Chlorine Gas Leak in Jordan Port City Kills Thirteen People

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Port Of Aqaba City
  • A gas leak in Aqaba, Jordan killed at least thirteen people and injured more than 250. A storage container carrying between 25 and 30 tonnes of chlorine gas fell as it was being exported to Djibouti, releasing the gas.
  • A video of the incident on state TV shows the container being dropped onto the deck of the ship and a yellow colored gas spreading through the air as people try to evacuate. The accident seems to be a result of the crane malfunctioning.
  • If chlorine is inhaled at high levels, it can cause life-threatening damage. A nearby beach in Aqaba was evacuated as a safety precaution, and residents who live in the nearest residential area, about 25 kilometers (15 miles) away, were advised to stay inside and close windows.
  • Jordan’s Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh traveled to Aqaba and visited some of the injured at the hospital. He also formed a team led by the interior minister to investigate the incident.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Russian Missile Sets Ukraine Shopping Center on Fire

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781px Nevsky Centre Shopping Mall in Russia
  • A busy shopping center in Ukraine was set on fire by Russian missiles on Monday, killing at least thirteen people and injuring dozens. The total number of casualties is still unknown.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that “The number of victims is impossible to imagine” and that there could have been up to 1,000 people in the mall.
  • The attack came during the G7 summit, where world leaders condemned recent atrocities and promised to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes” in a joint statement. President Zelensky spoke to the leaders at the summit and stated that he wants the war to end before winter.
  • NATO has decided to increase the number of troops in its rapid reaction force from 40,000 to 300,000, more than eightfold. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated this move is part of the “biggest overhaul of collective defense and deterrence since the Cold War.”
  • The United States has announced that it will provide Ukraine with advanced medium and long-range air defense capabilities.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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World Watches as the United States Supreme Court Abolishes a Woman’s Right to an Abortion

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  • The United States’ top justices voted to eliminate the constitutional right to an abortion, a law that had been in place for over 50 years.
  • The closely watched decision was heralded by some and derided by others, depending on their position on the controversial concept of a woman’s right to choose for her own body.
  • With the abolition of the constitutional right, it is expected that many states in the U.S. will implement near total bans of abortion rights, while other states such as California, Oregon and Washington have reaffirmed their commitment to preserve the right to an abortion.
  • Planned Parenthood, the advocacy face for abortion rights, is mobilizing around the country to bolster and increase services in those states that will preserve the right, and engage voters in those states that plan to abolish the right.

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All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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The EU Approves Ukraine for Candidacy

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Munster Stadtweinhaus Beflaggung Ukraine und EU 2022 0219 scaled
  • The EU has finally approved the application of Ukraine to become a candidate country for admission to the 27- country organization. Ukraine will now join the official candidate list, which already includes Albania, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey. 
  • The US is expected to provide an additional $450m in security assistance to Ukraine. Which includes four more High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems. 
  • The EU and Norway have agreed to cooperate and provide the EU’s 27 countries with gas from Western Europe’s biggest provider. The EU imports roughly ⅕ of its gas from Norway compared to the 40% it was receiving from Russia. Currently, Russia has been cutting gas supplies to countries refusing to pay for it in roubles. 
  • Melbourne is considering utilizing its largely vacant $200m Center for National Resilience building to house hundreds of refugees fleeing war-torn Ukraine and Afghanistan. The center will only be able to temporarily house about 500 refugees from Afghanistan and about 200 from Ukraine. 
  • Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov thanked US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin after receiving and welcoming the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) from the United States. 
  • Nike joined other leading Western brands by formally making a full exit from Russia, three months after suspending its operations. Telecoms equipment maker Cisco is also planning to wind down business in Russia and Belarus as well.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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US Supreme Court Expands Gun Carrying Rights Causing National Outrage 

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Open Carry of a 9mm Browning Hi Power in Eagle Colorado scaled
  • The US Supreme Court expanded gun carrying rights after a New York law denied the plaintiffs Robert Nash and Brandon Koch from carrying a concealed weapon in public, despite them having licenses for recreational gun ownership. 
  • The US court ruled that the New York law requiring residents to prove “proper cause” to carry a concealed weapon is unconstitutional. Justice Clarence Thomas, who represented the 6 justices who ruled in favor of the decision, stated that Americans have the right to carry “commonly used” firearms in public for personal defense. 
  • This decision comes amid an intense national debate over gun violence, and could possibly challenge the  outcome of similar regulations in other states, such as California and New Jersey, and affect a quarter of Americans by allowing more people to carry guns legally. 
  • Three liberal justices, Elena Kahan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Stephen Breyer, were against the majority decision, and Justice Breyer noted that “since the start of this year alone (2022), there have already been 277 reported mass shootings – an average of more than one per day.”
  • While the National Rifle Association (NRA) celebrated the judgment, President Biden stated that he was “deeply disappointed” by the court’s decision and that the ruling “contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should trouble us all.” 
  • New York Mayor Eric Adams also agreed with Biden and stated that he would review other ways to restrict gun access by restricting the application process for buying guns and looking into bans of firearms at specific locations. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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