The US drugmaker has escalated a dispute with Warsaw over unwanted jab doses FILE PHOTO © Artur Widak / NurPhoto via Getty Images

US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has escalated its feud with Poland over excess Covid-19 vaccine doses that were ordered under a massive contract with the European Union, filing a lawsuit to demand payment for 60 million jabs that Warsaw didn’t need.

The case was filed this week in Brussels, demanding 6 billion zloty ($1.5 billion) for the vaccines that Poland’s government declined after it stopped taking delivery of the jabs in April 2019. Warsaw was locked into buying its share of Covid-19 inoculations under a controversial contract that the European Commission signed with Pfizer in 2021 on behalf of EU nations.

The bloc wound up ordering 1.1 billion doses under the contract, saddling EU states with a vaccine glut as the Covid-19 pandemic waned. The EU prosecutor’s office announced an investigation of the procurement process amid allegations of corruption and secret backroom dealings.

Polish officials questioned the role of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in making the deal. Von der Leyen admitted to privately communicating with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla for weeks during the contract negotiations, but the European Commission said last year that her text exchanges with the executive could not be found.

EU chief can’t find Pfizer CEO texts EU chief can’t find Pfizer CEO texts

The first hearing in Pfizer’s lawsuit is scheduled to take place on December 6. The company offered earlier this year to give the EU more time to complete its minimum vaccine purchases under the binding contract, but it insisted that it eventually be paid for the full number of doses to which the bloc committed. Poland refused to sign on to a revised EU agreement with the drugmaker.

Polish Health Minister Katarzyna Sojka told broadcaster TVN24 on Wednesday that there is some hope of resolving the Pfizer lawsuit “in a positive way.” She noted that Warsaw is not alone in the issue, as other EU states will face similar lawsuits.

Pfizer wants EU to keep paying for unused Covid jabs – FT Pfizer wants EU to keep paying for unused Covid jabs – FT

Pfizer decided to go forward with the lawsuit “following a prolonged contract breach and a period of discussions in good faith between the parties,” a company spokesman told Politico.

Millions of Poles refused to receive Covid-19 vaccines, and Warsaw halted deliveries of the jabs as an influx of Ukrainian refugees in early 2022 strained the government’s finances. (RT)