Brussels and AstraZeneca end court battle after agreeing on vaccine deliveries

After reaching a pact over the delivery of undelivered coronavirus vaccines
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REUTERS/DADO RUVIC  -   The European Commission (EC) announced Friday that it is withdrawing its legal complaint against Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca after reaching an agreement on the delivery of undelivered COVID-19 vaccines.

The European Commission (EC) announced Friday that it is withdrawing its legal complaint against Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca after reaching an agreement on the delivery of undelivered COVID-19 vaccines.

Under the "settlement agreement", AstraZeneca will deliver an additional 135 million doses by the end of 2021 (60 million doses by the end of the third quarter and 75 million doses by the end of the fourth quarter) and the remaining doses (65 million) by the end of March 2022, the Commission said in a statement.

"Member states will have regular delivery schedules and limited discounts will be applied in case of dose delays," the EU executive added.

Brussels took the drugmaker to the Belgian courts in April after months of public confrontation, claiming it had unjustifiably failed to deliver its coronavirus vaccine to the European Union in August 2020.

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REUTERS/KENZO TRIBOUILLARD - European Union Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides

The litigation was split into two trials, one on urgency and the other on the merits. In the first trial, a Brussels court of first instance forced the drugmaker to set a delivery schedule, but required the lab to provide only 50 million doses by September, compared to the 300 million demanded by the Commission.

Both sides hailed the ruling as a victory, pending the second trial, on the merits of the case from September, in which the Commission, on behalf of EU member states, could also demand compensation for late deliveries.

However, before the first hearing took place, the parties have reached an agreement that puts an end to the court battle, initiated because Brussels suspected that AstraZeneca's delays were not due to force majeure circumstances linked to the accelerated production of a new vaccine, but because the lab had supplied other customers with European doses.