The European Commission has today concluded exploratory talks with BioNTech-Pfizer to purchase a potential vaccine against COVID-19. BioNTech-Pfizer is the sixth company with which the Commission has concluded talks, following Sanofi-GSK on 31 July, Johnson & Johnson on 13 August, CureVac on 18 August and Moderna on 24 August. The first contract, signed with AstraZeneca, entered into force on 27 August.
The envisaged contract with BioNTech-Pfizer would provide for the possibility for all EU Member States to purchase the vaccine, as well as to donate to lower and middle income countries or re-direct to European countries.
It is anticipated that the Commission will have a contractual framework in place for the initial purchase of 200 million doses on behalf of all EU Member States, plus an option to purchase up to a further 100 million doses, to be supplied once a vaccine has proven to be safe and effective against COVID-19.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said: “I am happy to announce that we have concluded talks with BioNTech-Pfizer for an initial purchase of 200 million doses of future coronavirus vaccines. This is the 6th pharma company with which we have concluded talks or signed an agreement for potential vaccines, in record time. Our chances to develop and deploy a safe and effective vaccine have never been higher, both for Europeans here at home, or for the rest of the world. To defeat coronavirus anywhere, we need to defeat it everywhere.”
Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “Today’s final talks with BioNTech-Pfizer is yet another important step in our efforts to build a sound and diverse portfolio of vaccine candidates. This was the objective of our EU Vaccine Strategy, and we are delivering on it. We are optimistic that among these candidates there will be a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19 to help us defeat this pandemic.”
BioNTech is a German company working with US-based Pfizer to develop a new vaccine based on messenger RNA (mRNA). mRNA plays a fundamental role in human biology, transferring the instructions which direct cells in the body to make proteins to prevent or fight disease.
The exploratory talks concluded today are intended to result in an Advance Purchase Agreement to 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.
Today’s conclusion of the exploratory talks with BioNTech and Pfizer is an important step towards the conclusion of an Advance Purchase Agreement, and therefore towards the implementation of the European Vaccines Strategy, adopted by the Commission on 17 June 2020. This strategy aims to secure for all European citizens high-quality, safe, effective and affordable vaccines within 12 to 18 months. To do so, and together with the Member States, the Commission is agreeing Advance Purchase Agreements with vaccine producers reserving or giving the Member States the right to buy a given number of vaccine doses for a certain price, as and when a vaccine becomes available.