The move allows for the purchase of 900 million doses of the companies' current mRNA-based vaccine and of a vaccine adapted to variants, with the option to purchase an extra 900 million shots.
The contract stipulates that the vaccine production is based in the EU and that essential components are sourced from the EU; it also requires that, from the start of the supply in 2022, delivery to the EU is guaranteed, confirmed the Commission.
The possibility for EU member states to resell or donate doses to countries in need outside the EU or through the COVAX Facility has been reinforced, contributing to global and fair access to COVID-19 vaccines globally, it continued.
“This new contract will strengthen the EU vaccine production capacity, thus allowing [us] to serve other markets across the world," said the EU executive.
EU Commission lead, Ursula von der Leyen, said potential contracts with other manufacturers will follow the same model as this contract with Pfizer and BioNTech.
Stella Kyriakides, EU health commissioner, commented: “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. 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.”
To date, along with Pfizer-BioNTech, the Commission has granted conditional marketing authorization to the COVID-19 vaccines developed by Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.