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4th Mar 2024

AstraZeneca must deliver 50m doses by September or face fines

  • If the UK-based pharmaceutical giant does not comply with the timetable set by the court, there will be a €10 fine per dose not delivered (Photo: Cheshire East Council)

A Brussels court on Friday (18 June) ordered AstraZeneca to deliver 50 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to EU member states by September, in a legal case brought by the European Commission - with both sides claiming victory.

AstraZeneca is now expected to supply 15 million doses by 26 July, 20 million doses by 23 August, and 15 million doses by 27 September.

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Responding to the ruling, the company said it would "substantially exceed" these deliveries by the end of June.

However, the commission lawyers had asked for 90 million extra vaccines to be delivered by the end of June.

The EU Commission has refused to clarify the number of doses delivered to the EU so far.

However, AstraZeneca previously announced it aims to ship some 70 million doses by the end of June, in addition to the 30 million already delivered in the first quarter of 2021.

"To date, the company has supplied more than 70 million doses to the European Union and will substantially exceed 80.2 million doses by the end of June," said UK-based AstraZeneca, in a statement.

Under the EU Commission's contract with AstraZeneca, the company was supposed to deliver a total of 300 million doses to EU member states for the period between December and the end of June.

But manufacturing problems slowed down production, causing shortfalls and triggering a row that ended up in another, ongoing, legal battle.

'Breach of contractual obligations'

Friday's ruling shows that AstraZeneca committed a breach of its contractual obligations with the EU since the company should have deployed all its "best efforts" using all its available factories, including British production sites, to deliver the number of vaccines agreed timely.

"Oxford BioMedica should be used and must be used to catch up with its [AstraZeneca's] contractual obligations," an EU official said.

The judge's decision also adds that the EU was not informed of an "exclusivity deal" between the UK government and the British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm.

Meanwhile, both sides have claimed a victory.

"The judgment also acknowledged that the difficulties experienced by AstraZeneca in this unprecedented situation had a substantial impact on the delay," AstraZeneca also said.

"AstraZeneca now looks forward to a renewed collaboration with the European Commission to help combat the pandemic in Europe," it adds.

EU officials, for their part, told reporters that "the judgement is entirely satisfying".

"This decision confirms the position of the commission: AstraZeneca did not live up to the commitments it made in the contract," EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said.

If the pharmaceutical company does not comply with this timetable, there will be a €10 fine per dose not delivered - with a maximum of €500m in penalties.

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