EU Eyes Joint Purchase of Covid Treatments in Long Virus Fight

The European Commission will propose the joint procurement of Covid-19 treatments, as it seeks to secure supplies of potentially critical drugs for the period past the acute phase of the pandemic, according to a document seen by Bloomberg.

The plan by the European Union’s executive arm sets out the need for a common European framework for the development and deployment of targeted therapeutics for coronavirus patients and aims to avoid a patchwork of policies across the 27-nation bloc. The commission is due to adopt the proposal on Wednesday and unveil it on Thursday.

Pfizer Inc., Merck & Co., Novartis AG and Roche Holding AG are among the companies investing in potential treatments for Covid, from antiviral pills to shots. They are betting that vaccines alone won’t be enough to halt the spread of the disease, meaning that people might not only need regular shots for years to come but also medicines to help those who’ve gotten sick.

Securing the supply of such treatments will limit the need for hospitalization, speed up recovery times and ultimately save lives of citizens across the bloc, the commission says in the draft of the plan seen by Bloomberg. Its aim is to have three new therapeutics available by October 2021 and possibly two more by year-end. At the moment, Remdesivir is the only Covid-19 treatment authorized at EU level.

The push aims to complement the EU’s strategy for Covid-19 vaccines in the medium term and highlights how the bloc expects the management of Covid to be a key priority in the medium term even after a significant segment of its population is fully vaccinated. As inoculations are picking up pace across the bloc, the commission is also looking to finalize a contract with Pfizer and BioNTech SE to deliver a massive supply of their vaccines to the bloc.

The vaccine deal is expected to cover 1.8 billion additional Covid doses through 2023, with production largely taking place within the EU. The doses would mainly include booster shots and doses for children, officials have said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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