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EU states back spending up to $2.7 billion upfront on COVID-19 vaccines

The European Commission received a mandate from EU governments on Friday to negotiate advance purchases of promising coronavirus vaccines, the EU’s top health official said, but it is unclear whether there is enough money available.

Medical staff measuring fever to a senior woman during coronavirus pandemic outbreak – Doctor and nurse screening people for Covid 19 disease – Healthcare and prevention concept – Focus on woman face

The bloc is scrambling to sign advance deals with pharmaceutical companies to secure coronavirus vaccines under development, fearing a successful shot might not be available for Europeans soon enough.

EU health ministers gave “overwhelming” backing for a Commission plan to use an emergency fund of currently 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) to buy coronavirus vaccines upfront, Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides told journalists after a videoconference with representatives of the 27 EU governments.

Under the plan, the EU would use most of the money available in that fund to buy in advance up to six vaccines for its 450 million people, EU officials said.

Such a multiple vaccine strategy could cost much more than the $1.2 billion deal signed by the United Stated in May to secure 300 million doses of a single coronavirus vaccine being developed by British drugmaker AstraZeneca.

Asked whether EU states should provide extra funds, Kyriakides said there was no need for further financial commitments at the moment. An EU official said member states’ financial support was welcome.

The EU is planning a vaccination strategy that would target the most vulnerable, which would reduce the number of doses immediately needed, and the upfront payments. But it is unclear whether governments support the plan.

Under the advance purchasing plans, the EU would buy or commit to buying promising vaccines before they are ready, taking the risk of potential clinical failures. In exchange, it would get priority access to the shots.

The bloc has accepted extra risks so as not to lag behind China and the United States in the race to a vaccine, which currently does not exist.

The commissioner said the EU executive had already discussed its plans with pharmaceutical companies, but declined to name them. She also did not answer questions about the timing of the possible advance purchasing deals.

AstraZeneca, France’s Sanofi, and U.S. players Pfizer, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna are among companies trialling vaccines.

EU officials said the bloc would not buy vaccines produced exclusively in the United States, fearing that would delay supplies to Europe.

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Meeta Ramnani
Meeta Ramnani
Meeta develops credible content about various markets based on deep research, opinions from experts and inputs from industry leaders. As the managing editor at Smart Industry News, she assures that every piece of news and article adds to the knowledge of decision makers. An avid bike rider, Meeta, is a postgraduate from Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM) Bangalore, where her specialization was Business Journalism. She carries experience from mainstream print media including The Times Group and Sakal Media Group.