The E.U. will soon seal its rejection of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine by signing off on the world’s biggest vaccine deal yet, buying up to 1.8 billion doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine to last until 2023. The Telegraph has the story.
The vaccines from the U.S. drugmaker and its German partner BioNTech would be delivered over 2021-2023, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said during a visit to Pfizer’s vaccine plant in Puurs, Belgium.
The agreement would be enough to inoculate the 450 million E.U. population for two years and comes as the bloc seeks to shore up long-term supplies.
This is the third contract agreed by the bloc with the two companies, which have already agreed to supply 600 million doses of the two-dose vaccine this year under two previous contracts.
European Commission Chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday that the E.U. will have enough to inoculate at least 70% of E.U. adults by the end of July.
The E.U. Chief had previously set a goal of late September.
An E.U. official said the supply deal was agreed in principle but that both sides needed a few days to iron out final terms.
“We will conclude in the next days. It will secure the doses necessary to give booster shots to increase immunity,” Ms von der Leyen said at a briefing at the Puurs factory.
Pfizer has scrambled to boost output in recent months at its U.S. and Belgian plants to meet growing demand.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said Puurs is expected to have the capacity to produce more than 100 million doses by May.
A new study by Oxford University and the ONS has found that one dose of the Pfizer vaccine reduces Covid infections by 65%. The same is true of the AstraZeneca vaccine, according to the study, but many European countries have come to distrust the vaccine because of its link to blood clots (the risk of which has been upgraded in the past two weeks). Thirty three per cent of Danes would refuse to take the AZ vaccine, according to a survey, while in Sicily the refusal rate is said to be closer to 80%. On top of concerns about cases of blood clotting, the European Commission has criticised AstraZeneca for cutting its vaccine deliveries to the bloc and is now preparing legal proceedings against the drugmaker, according to reports. The E.U.’s contract with AZ included 400 million doses of the Covid vaccine, 100 million of which were optional. The bloc, which has tightened its bond with Pfizer, has decided against taking this option up.
The Telegraph’s report is worth reading in full.