The European Commission said on Wednesday it had sealed a deal with Pfizer and BioNTech for the supply of up to 300 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
The move follows Pfizer’s announcement on Monday that its experimental vaccine developed with BioNTech was more than 90% effective, making them the first drugmakers to show successful interim data from a large-scale clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine.
“I’m very happy to announce today’s agreement with the European company BioNTech and Pfizer to purchase 300 million doses of the vaccine,” the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said.
Under the EU deal, the 27 EU countries could buy 200 million doses, and have an option to purchase another 100 million.
The COVID-19 death toll in Europe was set to pass 300,000 and authorities feared that despite hopes for a new vaccine, fatalities and infections would continue to rise. Europe accounts for almost a quarter of the deaths globally, and even its well-equipped hospitals are feeling the strain.
In all, Europe has reported over 12.8 million cases and about 300,114 deaths. Over the past week, it has seen 280,000 cases a day, up 10% from the week earlier, representing just over half of all new infections reported globally.
After achieving a measure of control over the pandemic with broad lockdowns earlier this year, case numbers have surged since the summer and governments have ordered a second series of restrictions to limit social contacts.
This is spurring the drive at EU wide level to push towards the deployment of the vaccine. in fact, today, the European Commission will discuss the adoption of a contract for the supply of the vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. Spain announced that it will get the first vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech early next year, while Italy expects to receive an initial 3.4 million shots in January.
Ireland announced that it will ease travel curbs for arrivals from “red” regions of Britain and the European Union hardest hit by COVID-19 from Nov. 29.
The number of people in France who have died from COVID-19 infections rose by 472 over 24 hours, versus 551 on Monday.