A court ruled on Friday that AstraZeneca was breaching its contract with the EU and ordered it to deliver a cumulative total of 80.2 million doses of vaccine to the EU before September 27, less than the 120 the EU had wanted in end of June.
A Belgian court ruled on Friday that the coronavirus vaccine manufacturer, AstraZeneca, had committed a “serious breach” of its contract with the European Union amid a major legal battle over delivery obligations that has tarnished the image of the company.
The court ordered AstraZeneca to deliver a total of 80.2 million doses to the EU from the time the contract was agreed until 27 September. The ruling said the company did not appear to have made the “best reasonable effort” to meet the delivery schedule because it had not used its UK production sites.
But the Anglo-Swedish company won, saying it was well below the 120 million doses the EU executive, the European Commission, was looking for in total in late June. He also praised the court’s recognition that it was under unprecedented pressure.
AstraZeneca was seen as a key pillar of the EU vaccine launch. His contract with the commission provided for the initial distribution of 300 million doses, with an option for another 100 million, but the speed of deliveries was much slower than the company originally thought.
“We are satisfied with the Court’s order,” Executive Vice President Jeffrey Pott said in a statement. “AstraZeneca has fully complied with its agreement with the European Commission and will continue to focus on the urgent task of delivering an effective vaccine.”
The commission, for its part, also claimed a victory in which the judge had ordered the company to respect a delivery schedule of 15 million doses on July 26, 20 million doses on August 23 and 15 million. of dose on 27 September. He ordered a fine of 10 euros ($ 12) for undelivered dose.
“This decision confirms the position of the commission: AstraZeneca did not live up to the commitments acquired in the contract. It is good to see an independent judge confirm this, “said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
“This shows that our European vaccination campaign not only offers our citizens every day. It also shows that it was founded on a solid legal basis, “he said in a statement.
AstraZeneca’s image has been affected by the slow pace of vaccine production, but despite the EU’s dissatisfaction with the speed of deliveries, the commission still recommends the company’s features as effective protection against coronavirus.
Ultimately, AstraZeneca is likely to comply with the court order with ease. It had already supplied 30 million doses by the end of March. From March to June, it supplied an additional 40 million doses. That leaves him with just over 10 million of the 80.2 million doses to be provided on September 27th.
Two more hearings have been scheduled for September in case the commission is not yet satisfied.
From the outset, the commission has stated that it initiated the legal urgency procedure, which began in the Brussels court of first instance last month, simply to secure the doses of vaccine promised in the member countries of the EU.
He accused AstraZeneca of acting in bad faith by providing shots to other countries, particularly the UK, and argued that the company should have used its production sites in the UK to help comply with the EU order.
But AstraZeneca argued that the challenges of producing and administering the vaccine could not have been foreseen during a pandemic that occurred once a century and that its sites in the UK were primarily intended to serve its contract with the British government. .
In its 67-page ruling, however, the court suggested that the company may not have used all the means at its disposal, including the Oxford Biomedica and Halix sites in the UK, to meet its supply schedule in the EU. This could be perceived as not making the “best reasonable effort” to fulfill your contract.
In its statement, AstraZeneca said it “now expects renewed collaboration with the European Commission to help fight the pandemic in Europe.”
Although its deliveries will continue this year, the commission has already decided not to renew the contract with the company.