The European Commission and BioNTech-Pfizer: a third contract for an additional 1.8 billion doses
Today, 20 May, the European Commission signed a third contract with the pharmaceutical companies BioNTech and Pfizer. Thanks to this, an additional 1.8 billion doses have been reserved on behalf of all EU Member States, between the end of 2021 to 2023, allowing for the purchase of 900 million doses of the current vaccine and of a vaccine adapted to the new variants.
Before that, the European Commission had already secured up to 2.6 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccine deliveries to EU countries have increased steadily and vaccination is gathering pace. At the same time, it has started work to tackle new variants, aiming to rapidly develop and produce effective vaccines against these variants on a large scale.
BioNTech is a German company working with US-based Pfizer to develop a vaccine based on messenger RNA (mRNA). mRNA plays a fundamental role in biology, transferring instructions from DNA to cells' protein-making machinery. In an mRNA vaccine, these instructions make harmless fragments of the virus which the human body uses to build an immune response to prevent or fight disease.
Besides BioNTech-Pfizer, Europe possesses a diversified vaccines portfolio that ensures that Europe has access to enough doses to immunise its whole population, including for the variant viruses. Other contracts include those with AstraZeneca, Sanofi-GSK, Janssen PharmaceuticaNV, Curevac and Moderna and BioNTech/Pfizer itself.
According to the contract with BioNTech-Pfizer, the vaccine production should be based in the EU and essential components should be sourced from the EU. It also stipulates that from the start of the supply in 2022, the delivery to the EU is guaranteed.
The EU is committed to ensuring that safe vaccines reach all corners of the world. The Commission and EU countries have pledged over €2.2 billion to COVAX, the global initiative aimed at ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, and are supporting vaccination campaigns in partner countries.
Image © European Commission, 2021
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