A Belgian court on Friday ordered drugs company AstraZeneca to deliver 50 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to EU members by September 27 - fewer than Brussels had demanded.

Both sides claimed victory, with the European Commission stressing the firm would pay a financial penalty for each missed dose and the company promising it would easily meet the target.

The UK-based pharmaceutical fell well short of fulfilling its contract to supply the EU in the first quarter, delivering only 30 million of the 120 million promised.

But the court, while finding in favour of the European Commission's demand for interim measures, ordered only that the company deliver 50 million more doses by the end of September.

If the firm fails to do so it would pay a fine of €10 per dose not delivered.

Both sides declare victory

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

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

"This shows that our European vaccination campaign not only delivers for our citizens day by day. It also demonstrates, that it was founded on a sound legal basis."

But, in a company statement, AstraZeneca also welcomed the ruling.

"The European Commission had requested 120 million vaccine doses cumulatively by the end of June 2021, and a total of 300 million doses by the end of September 2021," the firm said. 

"The judge ordered delivery of 80.2 million doses by 27 September 2021," it said - including the 30 million it already delivered in the first quarter in its calculation. 

"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 2021." 

 

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