The EU’s latest supply agreement will bring the amount of potential vaccine doses for Europe up to 1.8bn.
Today (17 November), European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced that the EU will authorise a contract to secure 405m doses of a Covid-19 vaccine produced by German company CureVac.
The announcement follows a week of promising vaccine news, with early results from the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine trial and the Moderna vaccine trial.
Last week the European Commission agreed to buy up to 300m doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and the CureVac agreement will mark its fifth contract with a pharma company for its Covid-19 vaccine portfolio.
According to a statement from von der Leyen, the European Commission is also working on a contract with Moderna. “We have already concluded exploratory talks with Moderna. We hope to finalise the contract soon,” she said.
Earlier this year, the European Union, along with the European Investment Bank, provided funding to CureVac. “We did that to support the development of this vaccine. And now, progress is tangible,” said von der Leyen. “If the vaccine has proven safe and effective against Covid-19, every member state will receive the vaccine at the same time, on a pro-rata basis, and under the same conditions.”
Aside from its Pfizer and CureVac contracts, the EU’s other vaccine contracts are with AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi. The latest supply agreement with CureVac will bring the combined total of potential vaccine doses up to more than 1.8bn.
“We do not know at this stage which vaccines will end up being safe and effective. The European Medicines Agency will authorise them only after a robust assessment. This is why we need to have a broad portfolio of vaccines based on very different technologies,” said von der Leyen.
“In parallel, we are working with Covax to provide access to vaccines for low- and middle-income countries. Thus, we want to ensure that all have access rapidly to safe and effective vaccines.”
The Covax Facility is a global initiative with governments and manufacturers to ensure that Covid-19 vaccines will reach those in greatest need. Last week, the EU announced that it would increase its Covax contribution to €500m.