The European Commission has approved a new Covid vaccine contract with Pfizer and BioNTech - in addition to all the contract signed already with other vaccine producers- paving the way for as many as 1.8 billion doses for 2021-23, 4 times more than needed, commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Saturday.
The contract is for a guaranteed 900 million shots, with an option for a further 900 million.
The new agreement includes clauses to allow the donation and reselling of doses, according to a memo seen by Bloomberg. It also sets out monthly delivery schedules and sanctions for potential delays.
The commission is also in talks with Moderna, Novavax and Valneva for additional shots. Meanwhile, deliveries of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine
remain sparse as investigations continue into contaminated batches at a US plant.
Still, von der Leyen said last week that she expects enough doses of all vaccines
to inoculate the bulk of the bloc’s population to be available by July.
Saturday’s contract announcement comes after the commission chief said she was open to discussing US President Joe Biden
’s proposal to waive patents on Covid
if it would speed up distribution worldwide.
Von der Leyen said at a conference of European Union leaders on Friday that vaccine
manufacturers in the bloc have exported about half of the shots they’ve produced, some 200 million in total, and urged the United States to match that effort.
EU leaders said on Saturday they would welcome a discussion on waiving patents if the United States can advance a more "concrete" proposal.