Malta allocated 330,000 doses of potential Covid-19 vaccine through EU agreement

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Malta has been allocated 330,000 doses of a potential Covid-19 vaccine through an agreement reached by the European Commission with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

Through the contract, EU member states will be able to purchase 300 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, should it come to fruition, with an option for a further million doses.

These are to be distributed on a population-based pro-rata basis, and Health Minister Chris Fearne confirmed that Malta’s allocation is just under a third of a million doses.

Fearne emphasised that front-line workers and the vulnerable would be prioritised for vaccination until enough doses are acquired to immunise the entire population.

Commission seeking similar agreements with other manufacturers

Meanwhile, the European Commission has continued discussing similar agreements with other pharmaceutical companies seeking to develop a Covid-19 vaccine. It has successfully concluded exploratory talks with Sanofi-GSK on 31 July, Johnson & Johnson on 13 August, CureVac on 18 August and Moderna on 24 August.

AstraZeneca has joined forces with the University of Oxford to develop and distribute the university’s potential vaccine. This vaccine candidate is already in large-scale phase II/III clinical trials after promising results concerning safety and immunogenicity in phase I/II.

The advanced purchase agreement will be financed with the Emergency Support Instrument. Negotiations with AstraZeneca had begun with the so-called inclusive vaccine alliance (Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands), which ultimately asked the Commission to take over through an agreement signed on behalf of the entire EU.

In light of the high risks taken  by manufacturers, the agreements provide for member states to indemnify them for liabilities incurred under certain conditions, though liability still remains with the companies.

“After weeks of negotiations, we have the first EU advance purchase agreement for a vaccine candidate. I would like to thank AstraZeneca for its constructive engagement on this important agreement for our citizens. We will continue to work tirelessly to bring more candidates into a broad EU vaccines portfolio. A safe and effective vaccine remains the surest exit strategy to protect our citizens and the rest of the world from the coronavirus,” Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said.