EU Strikes up Third Vaccine Deal With Pfizer
More COVID-19 vaccines are set to roll out this upcoming summer after the European Commission signed a third deal with German biotechnology company BioNTech and American pharmaceutical company Pfizer today. The contract will run through 2023, giving all 27 European Union member countries the ability to access 1.8 billion more doses, with options to donate to non-EU countries that are struck hardest by the pandemic.
Before the agreement was made, the EU had secured up to 2.6 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines, however they encountered issues with Astra-Zeneca who failed to provide the doses bought by the EU for the vaccination campaign. Next week a court hearing will be held in Brussels against Astra-Zeneca for their breach of contract, along with issues found in the vaccine which forced countries such as Denmark to discontinue its use.
The EU’s deal with the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company was planned for 300 million doses for distribution with an additional 100 million to purchase later, with the intention of shipping them out throughout 2021. Instead, only 30 million was sent out during the first quarter and only 70 million in the second quarter, rather than the 180 million promised.
“With our signature, the new contract is now in force, which is good news for our long term fight to protect European citizens against the virus and its variants! Production and delivery in the EU of up to 1.8 billion doses are guaranteed. Potential contracts with other manufacturers will follow the same model, to the benefit of all,” said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Currently, EU member states will receive proportionate allocations of the doses, totalling up to 900 million, with an additional 900 million available containing the current vaccine available along with a serum that is adaptable to the new COVID variants. Through the UN initiative COVAX to provide vaccines for poorer countries, the EU will have the ability to donate their doses based on each national government’s jurisdiction.
“We need to be one step ahead of the virus. This means having access to adapted vaccines to protect us against the threat of variants, booster vaccines to prolong immunity, as well as protecting our younger population. Our focus is a priority on technologies that have proven their worth, like mRNA vaccines, but we keep our options open,” said EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides.
President von der Leyen also confirmed that 260 million doses will be delivered in Europe by the end of the week. At the moment, 40% of the population in Europe has received at least one dose, with 202.8 million being given.
“The past months have clearly demonstrated the need to have access to a broad portfolio of vaccines and different technologies, as well as reliable partners. As the pace of vaccination increases every day and work on effective therapeutics intensifies, we can look ahead with more optimism and confidence,” added Kyriakides.
Image attribution: “Syringe and Vaccine” by NIAID is licensed under CC BY 2.0