AstraZeneca and the EU both claim victory in court battle over slow vaccine deliveries

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Michał Chodyra
© GettyImages/Michał Chodyra

Related tags: Astrazeneca, European commission, COVID-19, Vaccine, court

A judgement has been issued in the legal dispute between the European Commission and AstraZeneca over a shortfall of delivery of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine doses to the EU-27.

The Anglo-Swedish pharma giant claims the Court of First Instance in Brussels, rejected the EU executive’s request for more deliveries by the end of June.

However, EU Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, weighing in on the judgement, said it is in line with the position of the Commission, that AstraZeneca did not live up to the commitments it made in the contract. “It is good to see that an independent judge confirms this.”

Background

Under the contract with the EU, AstraZeneca had pledged to deliver 300 million doses by the end of June. But it subsequently reduced delivery forecasts, citing production problems.

The EU accused the company of acting in bad faith by providing vaccines to other regions when they had been promised to the EU-27. However, the drug maker had claimed it was only compelled to make “best reasonable efforts​” to meet deliveries.

Today, AstraZeneca said the court ruled that it should deliver only 80.2 million doses by a deadline of September 27. The company said it has supplied more than 70 million doses to the bloc, to date, and will substantially exceed 80.2 million doses by the end of June.

According to an EU Commission statement, today’s ruling obliges AstraZeneca to deliver 15 million doses by July 26, another 20 million by August 23 and another 15 million does by September 27. 

In the event of non-compliance with those deadlines, it said the company will have to pay a penalty of €10 per COVID-19 vaccine dose not delivered.

Contrasting views

The EU Commission said the judge's decision on the requested interim measures is “based on the fact that AstraZeneca committed a serious breach of its contractual obligations with the EU.

“The court also holds that AstraZeneca should have deployed all its efforts to deliver the vaccines within the agreed timetable including the British production sites explicitly mentioned in the contract – especially given the big delays in deliveries to the EU.”

But AstraZeneca said the court found that the EU Commission has no exclusivity or right of priority over all other contracting parties for the pharma company’s COVID-19 vaccine.

“The judgement also acknowledged that the difficulties experienced by AstraZeneca in this unprecedented situation had a substantial impact on the delay. AstraZeneca now looks forward to renewed collaboration with the European Commission to help combat the pandemic in Europe.”

Related topics: Markets & Regulations, COVID-19

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