AstraZeneca today said said the European Union had lost its case against the FTSE-listed pharma over the supply of Covid-19 vaccines as a court in Brussels rejected an EU request for more deliveries by the end of June.
However, under a new delivery schedule, the company will be fined €10 for every dose not delivered on time.
AstraZeneca had committed in a contract to do its best to deliver to the EU 300m doses by the end of the month, but production problems led Astra to drastically slash its target to 100m vaccines.
It meant the EU was slow to catch-up to the UK and US in getting Covid jabs into arms in the first quarter of the year, sinceBrussels had placed a big bet on AstraZeneca vacccines in its rollout.
That led to a bitter dispute between the EU and the pharma, as well as a diplomatic spat with the UK and the threat of export bans from the bloc. Brussels then took EU’s legal action to get at least 120m doses by the end of June.
But today the judge said the company should only deliver 80.2m doses by a deadline of 27 September, AstraZeneca said.
However, the drugs maker will still need to deliver another 15m before the end of the month, the EU said after the ruling.
The Anglo-Swedish firm so far has delivered more than 70m doses to the EU and today said it “will substantially exceed 80.2m doses by the end of June,” reacting to Friday’s ruling.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, chalked the decision up as a win.
“This decision confirms the position of the Commission: AstraZeneca did not live up to the commitments it made in the contract. It is good to see that an independent judge confirms this”.
The EU said the new binding schedule was as follows:
- 15m doses by 26 July, at 9 a.m.,
- 20m doses by 23 August,
- 15m doses at 27 September.
In the event of non-compliance with these delivery deadlines the pharma company will have to pay a penalty of €10 per dose not delivered, potentially costing it hundreds of millions.
AstraZeneca shares are down around 0.25 per cent today on the news, to 8,361p.
Today’s announcement is only an interim decision by the Belgian court.