UPDATED: EU doubles COVID vaccine deal with Pfizer, EU countries cannot negotiate separate vaccine deals

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The European Union reached a deal with Pfizer and BioNTech for 300 million additional doses of their COVID-19 vaccine, the head of the European Commission said on Friday, in a move that would give the EU nearly half of the firms’ global output for 2021.

Pfizer has said it can produce globally up to 1.3 billion doses this year. The new agreement with the EU comes on top of another order for 300 million doses that the bloc agreed with Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech in November.

“We now have agreed with BioNTech and Pfizer to extend this contract. With the new agreement we could purchase a total of up to an additional 300 million doses of the BioNTech vaccine,” von der Leyen told a news conference.

The move allows EU governments to order new doses from April, von der Leyen said, as the 27-nation bloc races to ramp up the vaccination of its 450 million people. Each recipient of the Pfizer vaccine need two doses to develop maximum protection.

Von der Leyen said 75 million of the additional doses would be delivered in the second quarter of this year, and the rest by the end of 2021.

The agreement includes a possible immediate order for 200 million doses and an additional option to buy another 100 million, the Commission said.

Doses are usually shared among EU states in proportion to their population, but it is unclear whether all governments will make orders based on the new contract.

EU countries cannot negotiate separate vaccine deals

EU countries are not allowed to negotiate separate vaccine deals with pharmaceutical companies in parallel to the efforts of the European Union as a whole, the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen added.

“The only framework we are negotiating in is as 27. We do this together and no member state on this legal binding basis is allowed to negotiate in parallel or to have a contract in parallel,” von der Leyen told reporters in Brussels.

“The whole portfolio covers 2.3 billion doses of vaccines so this is more than enough to vaccinate the whole European population,” she said. 

Main Photo: European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen gives a presser on the EU’s vaccine strategy in Brussels, Belgium, 08 January 2021. Von der Leyen said the EU Commission had ordered a further 300 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from Biontech / Pfizer. EPA-EFE/FRANCOIS WALSCHAERTS / POOL EPA-EFE/FRANCISCO SECO / POOL

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