After securing a deal with Pfizer-BioNTech for 300 million extra doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, the EU leaders are to hold a pandemic video summit on January 21. On Friday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had said that agreement with the US-based pharmaceutical company will double the number of doses already ordered by the 27-nation bloc. Now, the move has raised hopes for speedier inoculation across the continent and has also eased criticism that the EU’s executive arm has not done enough to procure COVID-19 shots for the entire bloc.
"This would enable the EU to purchase up to 600 million doses of this vaccine, which is already being used across the EU. The additional doses will be delivered starting in the second quarter of 2021," the European Union said.
In a statement, the EU Commission has detailed that the officials have offered to member states to purchase an additional 200 million doses of the vaccine, with the option to acquire another 100 million doses. While speaking at a news conference, Von der Leyen said that 75 million of the extra doses would be initially available from the second quarter of the year, with the rest being delivered throughout 2021.
According to reports, the European Union has sealed six vaccine contracts for up to some two billion doses, with Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sanofi-GSK, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, Pfizer-BioNTech, and CureVac.
Further, the latest development comes after the European regulator approved the Moderna vaccine shot. EMA has said that a "very large clinical" trial showed Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine to be 94.1 percent effective. The EU agency said that the trial included 30,000 people between 18 to 94 years of age.
The trial proved the vaccine is safe and effective and also showed the efficacy of 90.9% in people with chronic lung disease, heart disease, obesity, liver disease, diabetes, or HIV infection. Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine is administered in two doses, 28 days apart.
Now, combined with the contract finalised with Moderna, Von der Leyen said that the EU has the capacity to vaccinate 380 million people, which is more than 80 percent of the EU population. "We were faced with a situation where we had huge demand, but the production capacity had not kept pace with that as yet. Now we have a positive step forward," European Commission President said.