EU fails in legal action against AstraZeneca over vaccine delay

The European Commission has lost a legal bid to force AstraZeneca to deliver millions more doses of its Covid-19 vaccines or face large fines.

AstraZeneca was originally expected to supply up to 300m doses to the EU in the first six months of this year but that forecast was cut to just 100m after production problems. The Commission wanted a Brussels judge to order the company to raise that figure to 120m, with a penalty of €10 per dose per day for any shortfall — penalties that could have run into billions of euros. 

But, according to AstraZeneca, the court ordered it to deliver just 10m doses more than it has already sent — a total of 80m, by September — which it can complete ahead of schedule by the end of June. 

Both sides claimed victory in the unusual legal battle, with AstraZeneca saying it was pleased with the court order, and the Commission saying it confirmed its position.

AstraZeneca said it looked forward to renewed collaboration with the Commission. Jeffrey Pott, AstraZeneca’s general counsel, said: “AstraZeneca has fully complied with its agreement with the European Commission and we will continue to focus on the urgent task of supplying an effective vaccine, which we are delivering at no profit to help protect people in Europe and around the world from the deadliest pandemic in a generation.”

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the Commission, also notched the verdict 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,” she said

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