EU, AstraZeneca both claim court row win

Ella JoynerAAP
The EU took legal action against AstraZeneca following production difficulties and low jab supplies.
Camera IconThe EU took legal action against AstraZeneca following production difficulties and low jab supplies. Credit: EPA

A Belgian court has instructed AstraZeneca to deliver 50 million COVID-19 shots to the European Union by late September in a decision hailed by both sides as a victory.

The British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm faces fines of 10 euros ($A16) per missing shot if it doesn't deliver them according to a legally-mandated calendar, the court said.

But with the court ordering the delivery of far fewer doses than the commission had originally sought in the case, AstraZeneca claimed the ruling as a win.

The company must deliver a total 80.2 million doses by late September under the ruling, it noted in a press release, a target it expects to "substantially exceed" already by the end of the month.

The European Commission claimed victory on the principles of the case.

"AstraZeneca did not live up to the commitments it made in the contract," President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday in a written statement.

"It is good to see that an independent judge confirms this."

The EU executive branch took out a legal injunction against the firm after production difficulties wiped out a huge part its order for early 2021.

Officials in Brussels were particularly irked that the UK's supply chain remained relatively untouched.

The entire agreement, negotiated by the commission on behalf of the EU member states, foresaw the delivery of 300 million shots by the end of June.

It delivered only 30 million of a projected 120 million in the first quarter of the year.

AstraZeneca consistently argued it had not breached the contract by failing to deliver because it only committed to make "best reasonable efforts" to meet the stipulated timeline.

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