On behalf of EU Member States, the European Commission has approved a contract with the vaccine developers for an initial 200 million doses of the vaccine candidate; with the option to request a further 100 million doses.
On Monday the mRNA vaccine made headlines with its Phase 3 interim analysis, which reported the candidate is more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19.
Portfolio of vaccine deals
The two-dose vaccine is based on technology from Germany’s BioNTech: and is the result of a R&D collaboration with US giant Pfizer.
The European Commission has already made deals with Sanofi/GSK (300 million doses); AstraZeneca (300 million doses); and Janssen (up to 400 million doses). It has also concluded ‘successful exploratory talks’ with CureVac and Moderna.
Phase 3 trials for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine (BNT162b2) are under way in the US, Brazil, South Africa and Argentina.
“This [the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine] is the most promising vaccine so far,” said the European Commission’s president Ursula von der Leyon.
“Once this vaccine becomes available, our plan is to deploy it quickly, everywhere in Europe. This will be the fourth contract with a pharmaceutical company to buy vaccines. And more will come. Because we need to have a broad portfolio of vaccines based on different technologies.”
At the beginning of October, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) started a rolling review of data for BNT162b2. This means the EMA’s human medicines committee is already evaluating the first batches of data on the vaccine. It has not, however, forecast how long the review process may take.
In the US, the vaccine must wait for a safety milestone in the third week of November before it can approach the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization.