European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen holds a press conference in Brussels, Belgium on December 13, 2020 after speaking to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the phone.
Olivier Hoslet | Reuters
LONDON – The European Union doubles its inventory of Pfizer BioNTech coronavirus vaccines as concerns about adoption grow in its 27 member states.
The vaccine developed with German biotechnology was the first to be approved by European regulatory authorities. It has been administered across the region since December 27th. However, the rollout was inconsistent and the European Commission was criticized for not buying more vaccine.
The Commission has argued that, at the request of Member States, it has a diversified portfolio of vaccination contracts, totaling up to 2.3 billion doses of “the most promising candidates”.
“As you know, we currently have access to 300 million doses of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine. Now the good news is: we have now agreed with BioNTech-Pfizer to renew this contract. With the new agreement, we could buy more in total another 300 million cans, “said the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, at a press conference on Friday.
This would mean the EU is on track to get 600 million doses of this vaccine. Speaking to CNBC in December, Pfizer’s CEO pledged to produce a total of 1.3 billion cans in 2021, which would mean Europe would get almost half of its annual output.
75 million cans of the new order will be available in the second quarter of 2021. The rest will be delivered in the third and fourth quarters.
The Netherlands only started vaccinating its citizens this week and the bureaucracy has reportedly made France one of the biggest laggards in distributing the shock.
According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, more than 15 million cases of coronavirus have been reported in the region to date.
European regulators approved a second coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday. Moderna’s candidate is expected to be available to European citizens in the coming days.
“Europe will have more than enough vaccines within a reliable timeframe, and this shows that the path we have taken in the European Union is the right one,” said von der Leyen on Friday, rejecting the criticism.