This would enable the purchase up to 600 million doses of this vaccine against COVID-19, with it already in use across the EU since vaccinations got underway on December 27, 2020.
In an update this morning, President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said 75 million doses of this extended order would be available from the second quarter of 2021.
The rest would be delivered in the second and third quarters of this year.
“We already have a contract so [there is no need for further] lengthy negotiations. It is a proven vaccine, the Member States know how to handle it, they know the logistics behind and, therefore, this brings certainty for the planning, and it creates an additional momentum for vaccination throughout Europe.”
In addition to the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine, a second vaccine, produced by Moderna, was authorized by the Commission on Wednesday [January 6].
EU vaccine roll-out defended
In her briefing today, the Commission president also defended the EU vaccine roll-out amid the significant criticism of the EU approach to vaccine procurement and the pace of vaccinations in some countries. She said that, with these two authorized vaccines, the EU has already secured an amount of doses needed to inoculate 380 million Europeans, over 80% of the European population.
Other vaccines are expected to be approved for emergency supply in the EU in the coming weeks and months, added von der Leyen.
To date, the EU Commission has secured up to 2.3 billion doses from the most promising vaccine candidates for Europe and its neighborhood.
Contracts have been concluded with AstraZeneca (400 million doses), Sanofi-GSK (300 million doses), Johnson and Johnson (400 million doses), CureVac (405 million doses) as well as Moderna (160 million doses) and BioNTech-Pfizer (600 million doses). The Commission said it has also concluded exploratory talks with Novavax with a view to purchasing up to 200 million doses.
The EU pursued the right path, stressed von der Leyden.
"We shouldn't forget in the summer of last year, not even six months ago, there were over 160 different people bidding for vaccines, trying to invest in research. These were huge numbers. Of these 160 contracts or more, we filtered out the six contracts we now have; we all know that those were the right places to focus on, and these are all products [AZ, Pfizer-BioNTech, J&J, CureVac, Moderna, and Sanofi] that have made good progress," she clarified.
She also said that the Commission, right from the outset, was involved in production capacity building at all the vaccine manufacturers with which it has contracts.
"We are reaping the benefit of that now."
We make sure Europeans have sufficient doses of safe & effective #COVID19 vaccines.— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) January 8, 2021
We now enable EU countries to buy more doses of the 1st vaccine approved in EU.
They can now buy up to 300 million more doses of the #BioNTech/@Pfizer vaccine.https://t.co/vjZd0L17VL