COVID-19: EU Doubles BioNTech/Pfizer Vaccine Order To 600 Million Jabs
The 27-nation bloc has been hit with rising criticism that the vaccine rollout that started December 27 has been too slow, especially compared with countries such as the United States or former EU member Britain.
Von der Leyen told a press conference that;
We have right now, access to 300 million doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine. With the new agreement we could purchase a total of up to an additional 300 million doses.
The EU has also approved the Moderna vaccine for use in the EU, von der Leyen revealed, saying;
We have already secured an amount of doses that we need to vaccinate 380 million Europeans, and this is more than 80 percent of the European population.
She said other vaccine authorisations were expected “in the coming weeks and months” so “Europe will have more than enough vaccine within a reliable timeframe”.
Von der Leyen insisted the Commission had taken the right course of action on vaccines. She said global competition for promising candidates was fierce when it started negotiations early last year on behalf of EU’s member states.
European Union had to sift through 160 vaccine candidates to arrive at the six it retained as the most likely to work and feasible to distribute on a massive scale, she added.
Leyen admitted, though, that “difficult months” lay ahead in ramping up inoculations because of the scale of the task and the high number of infections.
European Commission now has contracts for 2.3 billion doses of various vaccines — enough for the entire 450-million EU population on the basis of a two-dose regimen per person, plus extra for poorer neighbouring countries.
The announced extension of the BioNTech/Pfizer contract is for a firm purchase of 200 million doses plus an option for 100 million more, with the additional doses starting to be delivered in the second quarter of this year.