The European Union has extended its contract with Pfizer/BioNTech for “up to an additional 300 million vaccines” in 2021 -- doubling the amount of doses from that vaccine, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced at a press conference on Friday.
Speaking from Brussels, she said it was imperative to vaccinate the maximum number of Europeans "as quickly as possible," adding that she was "particularly pleased that 75 million of this order will already be available as of quarter two [of this year] onwards. The rest will then be delivered in the third and in the fourth quarter.”
Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine became the second coronavirus vaccine to be approved for use in the EU on Wednesday.
With these two authorized vaccines, we have already secured an amount of doses that we need to vaccinate 380 million Europeans," von der Leyen added. "This is more than 80% of the European population. And other vaccines will follow in the coming weeks and months."
When asked to address the lag in the vaccination campaign in some European countries, Von der Leyen said it was down to production capacity not being able to keep pace with demand. “We’ve seen new production sites are being opened up or licensed, and that makes it possible to work on a basis of confidence with Pfizer/BioNTech to double the contract,” she added.
She added that the contract means the EU's vaccine portfolio "covers 2.3 billion doses... more than enough to vaccinate the whole European population.” That includes vaccines yet to be approved for use in the bloc.
According to the European Commission website on Friday, the Commission had concluded contracts with AstraZeneca (400 million doses), Sanofi-GSK (300 million doses), Johnson and Johnson (400 million doses ), Pfizer/BioNTech (300 million doses), CureVac (405 million doses) and Moderna (160 million doses).
These numbers do not take into account the extended contract with Pfizer/BioNTech announced Friday.