EU steps up efforts to protect public ahead of possible winter wave of coronavirus

The European Commission and the vaccine developers, BioNTech and Pfizer, have reached an agreement to better address Member States needs for COVID-19 vaccines for the months ahead.

This will ensure Member States have access to the vaccines when they need them – including future variant adapted vaccines if authorised, so that they can respond to any epidemiological developments later this year and continue to support partner countries globally.

This agreement with BioNTech-Pfizer will adapt the originally agreed contractual delivery schedules. Doses scheduled for June and throughout the summer will now be delivered in September and during the autumn and winter period 2022, when Member States will more likely need additional stocks of vaccines for national campaigns and for meeting their international solidarity commitments.

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “I welcome today's agreement on more flexible delivery arrangements for the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine. This flexibility will be welcome news for our Member States, as this amendment meets legitimate concerns on matching supply and demand, whilst ensuring security of vaccine supply if and when this is needed later in the year. We continue to closely follow with BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna the supply of COVID-19 vaccines, and stand ready to support Member States in ensuring the necessary flexibility.”

Should an adapted vaccine be authorised by the autumn or winter period 2022, Member States will have access to the deliveries in the form of adapted vaccines.

This amendment is part of an ongoing process whereby the Commission and Member States are working closely with the EU's vaccine suppliers to address the evolving pandemic needs. The Commission intends to finalise further such agreements in the near future.

In 2020, the European Union invested heavily in the global production of a number of COVID-19 vaccines. It was crucial to have vaccines as early as possible and at the scale needed, requiring important investments before knowing whether any of these vaccines would prove successful.

These actions taken at risk in 2020 have clearly paid off, as the development of vaccines has been quite successful: of the eight vaccines in the EU's vaccines portfolio, five have received marketing authorisation, two are still under review, and only one has been terminated before reaching further stages.

EU Member States have access to safe and effective vaccines early, and at the scale needed, allowing all EU citizens to be offered primary and booster vaccinations, saving lives and mitigating the impact of the pandemic upon social and economic life.

Moreover, a large number of these vaccines could also be used in the global efforts to tackle the pandemic. Around two-thirds of vaccine doses produced in the EU - more than 2 billion vaccine doses - have been exported to 167 countries. Member States have shared almost 475 million doses of which around 364 million have already been delivered to recipient countries (around 85% of these via COVAX).

At the same time, Member States must continue to ensure they have the strategic stocks of vaccines they need to deal with the potential epidemiological evolution of the COVID-19 virus. This includes having supply contracts, which allow for the supply of adapted vaccines, should they prove necessary.

The Commission, Member States and BioNTech-Pfizer have already recently signed an amendment to the contract which postponed doses from May and June to later in the third quarter of this year, in order to take account the fluctuating demand for COVID-19 vaccines.

In cooperation with the manufacturers, the Commission continues to facilitate further exchanges of doses between Member States to better address their needs.

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Staff Reporter

Staff Reporter

EU Today's Staff Reporters cover a wide variety of topics, involving the EU, its institutions, and its 27 member states.

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