Sunday, April 14, 2024

EU seeks big fine for AstraZeneca over vaccine delays

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BRUSSELS – A lawyer for the European Union (EU) accused AstraZeneca on Wednesday of failing to respect its contract with the 27-nation bloc for the supply of COVID-19 vaccines and asked a Belgian court to impose a large fine on the company.

The EU took the Anglo-Swedish firm to court in April after the drug-maker said it would aim to deliver only 100 million doses of its vaccine by the end of June, instead of the 300 million foreseen in the supply contract.

Brussels wants the company to deliver at least 120 million vaccines by the end of June. AstraZeneca had delivered 50 million doses by the beginning of May, only a quarter of the 200 million vaccines foreseen in the contract by then.

“AstraZeneca did not even try to respect the contract,” the EU’s lawyer, Rafael Jafferali, told a Brussels court in the first hearing on the substance of the legal case.

He said the EU was seeking U.S. $12.20 for each day of delay for each dose as compensation for AstraZeneca’s non-compliance with the contract.

This could be as high as U.S. $244 million a day from July 1, AstraZeneca’s lawyer Hakim Boularbah told the court, asking the judge to revise it down in case of a negative verdict.

Jafferali said the EU was seeking an additional penalty of at least U.S. $12.2 million for each breach of the contract that the judge may decide.

A verdict is expected next month.

(Reuters)

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