EU deal secures coronavirus vaccine booster shots and anti-variant doses from BioNTech-Pfizer

The European Commission signs deal with BioNTech-Pfizer for an additional 1.8 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to cover the period between end 2021 to 2023

The EU has secured an additional 1.8 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine from BioNTech-Pfizer
The EU has secured an additional 1.8 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine from BioNTech-Pfizer

The European Commission has signed a third contract with the pharmaceutical companies BioNTech and Pfizer for an additional 1.8 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The deal on behalf of all EU Member States was signed today and covers the period between end 2021 to 2023.

It will allow for the purchase of 900 million doses of the current vaccine and of a vaccine adapted to variants, with the option to purchase an additional 900 million doses.

The contract requires that the vaccine production is based in the EU and that essential components are sourced from the EU. It also stipulates that, from the start of the supply in 2022, the delivery to the EU is guaranteed.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “With our signature, the new contract is now in force, which is good news for our long term fight to protect European citizens against the virus and its variants. Production and delivery in the EU of up to 1.8 billion doses are guaranteed.  Potential contracts with other manufacturers will follow the same model, to the benefit of all.”

European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said it was important to be one step ahead of the virus and to do so the EU had to have access to adapted vaccines to protect against the threat of variants, booster vaccines to prolong immunity, as well as protecting the 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. As the pace of vaccination increases every day and work on effective therapeutics intensifies, we can look ahead with more optimism and confidence,” Kyriakides said.

The EU has signed contracts with AstraZeneca, Sanofi-GSK, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, Curevac, Moderna and BioNTech/Pfizer. The Commission has granted conditional marketing authorisation for the vaccines developed by BioNTech and Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson.

This diversified vaccine portfolio ensures Europe has access to enough doses to immunise its whole population including for the variant viruses.

BioNTech is a German company working with US-based Pfizer to develop a vaccine based on the innovative technology, messenger RNA (mRNA). mRNA technology uses instructions from DNA to the 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.