European Union lawyers have asked a Belgian court to impose a fine of at least €10 million plus “10 euros per dose and per day of the delay” following a dispute over COVID-19 vaccine supplies The EU started legal action against the Anglo-Swedish firm in April after the pharmaceutical said it would aim to deliver only 100 million doses of its vaccine by the end of June, instead of the 300 million in the supply contract.
Brussels wants the company to deliver at least 120 million vaccines by the end of June.
AstraZeneca has repeatedly said the contract was not binding as it only committed to making “best reasonable efforts” in delivering doses.
The actions by Brussels has triggered a furious response from a number of Express.co.uk readers who let their feelings known in the comments section of an earlier story.
One reader wrote: “Lower than a snake’s belly.”
A second said: “This will be the last time we ever see a drug company sell anything at cost price. Shame on VDL, shame on the EU.”
A third commented: “Dear me! What a smack in the mouth for a clever and dedicated scientific company.”
A fourth added: “Shamefaced EU officials trying to get their jabs for nothing. The whole scenario is shameful, attempting to blame everyone but themselves.
“The problems were of Brussels fault and they don’t like it.”
Meanwhile, a fifth said: “This will not go down well with companies across the globe. The EU is showing itself up.”
The EU’s lawyer, Rafael Jafferali, said the bloc is seeking 10 euros ($12.2) for each day of delay for each dose as compensation for AstraZeneca’s alleged breach of the contract.
This could be as high as 200 million euros per day from July 1.
Mr Jafferali said the EU was seeking an additional penalty of at least 10 million euros for each alleged breach of the terms.
The EU’s legal team argue the principle had not been respected as AstraZeneca had not delivered the 50 million doses produced in factories that are listed in the contract as suppliers to the EU.
They include 39 million doses manufactured in Britain, 10 million produced in the US and one million at a plant in The Netherlands.
AstraZeneca said doses produced in Britain were reserved under a contract the British government signed with the University of Oxford, which developed the vaccine.
Mr Boularbah added AstraZeneca continuously kept the EU informed about its production plans and issues.
The next hearing is scheduled to take place on June 4.