The European Commission said on Friday it had reached a deal with British pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca for the purchase of at least 300 million doses of its potential COVID-19 vaccine.
The EU’s executive arm, which is negotiating on behalf of the 27 EU states, said the deal also included an option to purchase 100 million more doses should the vaccine prove safe and effective.
The race for a COVID-19 vaccine is in full swing. A total of 31 vaccines are now undergoing human trials, including eight which have moved to phase three, with large-scale efficacy tests.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said: “The European Commission’s intense negotiations continue to achieve results. Today’s agreement is the first cornerstone in implementing the European Commission’s Vaccines Strategy. This strategy will enable us to provide future vaccines to Europeans, as well as our partners elsewhere in the world.”
Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “Today, after weeks of negotiations, we have the first EU advance purchase agreement for a vaccine candidate. I would like to thank AstraZeneca for its constructive engagement on this important agreement for our citizens. We will continue to work tirelessly to bring more candidates into a broad EU vaccines portfolio. A safe and effective vaccine remains the surest exit strategy to protect our citizens and the rest of the world from the coronavirus.”
The agreement approved on 14 August will be financed with the Emergency Support Instrument, which has funds dedicated to the creation of a portfolio of potential vaccines with different profiles and produced by different companies.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate is already in large-scale Phase II/III Clinical Trials after promising results in Phase I/II concerning safety and immunogenicity.
The decision to support the vaccine proposed by AstraZeneca is based on a sound scientific approach and the technology used (a non-replicative recombinant chimpanzee adenovirus-based vaccine ChAdOx1), speed at delivery at scale, cost, risk sharing, liability and the production capacity able to supply the whole of the EU, among others.
The regulatory processes will be flexible but remain robust. Together with the Member States and the European Medicines Agency, the Commission will use existing flexibilities in the EU’s regulatory framework to accelerate the authorisation and availability of successful vaccines against COVID-19. This includes an accelerated procedure for authorisation and flexibility in relation to labelling and packaging.
Reuters / Euronews