Europe Doubles Its Supply of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid Vaccine
(Bloomberg) -- The European Union secured an extra 300 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE as countries across the region struggle to push back a winter surge of fresh infections.
The announcement by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen doubles the total vaccine doses available from the two companies for the bloc’s 27 member states to 600 million. Negotiations had begun less than a week after the EU triggered an option for more vaccines under an original agreement, people familiar with the talks said earlier this week.
“I’m particularly pleased that 75 million of this order will already be available as of quarter two onward,” Von der Leyen told reporters on Friday in Brussels. “The rest will then be delivered in the third and in the fourth quarter.”
European governments have faced mounting criticism over the slow rollout of vaccination programs. The EU has signed deals with a range of companies for access to 2.3 billion doses, though only the Pfizer-BioNTech shot and a vaccine from Moderna Inc. have received approval for use from the European regulator.
Like the previous agreement, the new deal has two parts. The EU placed a firm order for a 200 million doses, with an option to request an additional 100 million shots, BioNTech said in a statement. The full 600 million doses available would be enough to vaccinate two-thirds of Europe’s population with a two-shot regimen.
BioNTech and Pfizer are looking for ways to boost production beyond the 1.3 billion doses originally planned for this year, the German biotech’s chief executive officer, Ugur Sahin, said in an interview last month. The CEO said he was confident that would be possible, though the partners haven’t yet announced exactly how.
Vaccine supply has been increasingly under scrutiny as European health authorities face a new, faster-spreading variant of the virus that originated in the U.K. The Pfizer-BioNTech shot may protect against the new variant, early data from lab experiments released on Friday showed.
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