Brussels (dpa) – The EU contract to purchase up to 1.8 billion additional doses of corona vaccine from Biontech / Pfizer has been finalized. Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission, announced this on Twitter on Saturday.
The amount must be delivered in 2023. 900 million cans must be firmly ordered, another 900 million cans are an option.
The goal is to refresh the vaccinations of adults and to immunize the 70 to 80 million children in the EU against the coronavirus. According to information from the German news agency, the contract has a maximum size of 35 billion euros and means further investments in Germany and Belgium.
As a rule, the European Commission does not officially say anything about the costs of the purchased vaccines. According to data from dpa, the agreed price per dose is in the order of magnitude last mentioned by the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissow: around 19.50 euros per dose. The price of 23.50 euros mentioned in media reports is too high, it was said in Brussels. The amount per dose is “less than 20 euros”.
According to a letter from the Federal Ministry of Finance to the Bundestag’s Budget Committee, Germany could get 165 million cans by ordering the first 900 million cans. The costs for this are therefore 3.83 billion euros.
The European Commission defended that the price would be higher than previous contracts with Biontech / Pfizer. There are stricter delivery agreements, different liability rules and agreements to adapt the vaccine to new virus variants, the authority said. In addition, the EU no longer pays money to promote production.
Von der Leyen announced on April 14 that negotiations are underway with the German company Biontech and its American partner Pfizer about the delivery of the enormous amount. The talks then took longer than expected. France would have objected. Ultimately, all 27 EU countries backed the deal, as the European Commission announced on Friday. All EU Commissioners then agreed by written procedure. There is currently an official objection period of five working days before the contract can be signed.
The European Commission expects that approximately 700 million doses will be needed in 2022 and 2023 for booster and childhood vaccinations. If a coronavirus mutation occurs that previous vaccinations do not help against, 640 million doses would be needed to completely re-immunize 70 percent of the EU population.
For the current vaccination campaign, the EU already has two framework contracts with Biontech / Pfizer for 600 million vaccine doses, which will be gradually delivered since the end of 2020. From the beginning of April to the end of June alone, the EU expects 250 million vaccine doses from manufacturers.
Their mRNA vaccine was the first to be approved in Europe. It is considered very effective and very safe. An advantage of the new mRNA technology is that vaccines can be adapted to virus mutations relatively quickly. The disadvantage is that the preparation has to be stored at very low temperatures and is relatively expensive. Manufacturers such as Astrazeneca and Johnson & Johnson use a different mode of action using so-called adenoviruses.
The head of the Commission had already announced that part of the deal would be full production in the EU – not only of the vaccine, but also of all essential components. Until now, the supply chains for the raw materials have been linked all over the world. Manufacturers are sometimes concerned about supplementing important components such as lipids, which are required for mRNA vaccines.