Coronavirus: Commission approves contract with BioNTech-Pfizer alliance to ensure access to a potential vaccine

Today, 11th of November 2020, the European Commission approved a fourth contract with pharmaceutical companies BioNTech and Pfizer, which provides for the initial purchase of 200 million doses on behalf of all EU Member States, plus an option to request up to a further 100 million doses, to be supplied once a vaccine has proven to be safe and effective against COVID-19. Member States can decide to donate the vaccine to lower and middle-income countries or to re-direct it to other European countries.

Today's contract with the BioNTech-Pfizer alliance builds upon the broad portfolio of vaccines to be produced in Europe, including the already signed a contracts with AstraZeneca, Sanofi-GSK and Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, and the concluded successful exploratory talks with CureVac and Moderna. This diversified vaccines portfolio will ensure Europe is well prepared for vaccination, once the vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said:  “In the wake of Monday's promising announcement by BioNTech and Pfizer on the prospects for their 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. With this fourth contract we are now consolidating an extremely solid vaccine candidate portfolio, most of them in advanced trials phase. Once authorised, they will be quickly deployed and bring us closer to a sustainable solution of the pandemic.

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “A safe and effective vaccine is the only lasting exit strategy from the pandemic, and is at the centre of our European Vaccine Strategy. Today's agreement follows the encouraging first indications from the clinical trial results and is further evidence of our commitment to putting more Europe in the area of health. It is a very telling example of what the EU can achieve when working together, as a Union, and a case in point of what a future European Health Union will be able to deliver.”

BioNTech is a German company working with US-based Pfizer to develop a new vaccine based on messenger RNA (mRNA). mRNA plays a fundamental role in  biology, transferring instructions from DNA to cells' protein making machinery. In an mRNA vaccine, these instructions make harmless fragments of the virus which the human body uses to build an immune response to prevent or fight disease.

The Commission has taken a decision to support this vaccine based on a sound scientific assessment, the technology used, the companies' experience in vaccine development and their production capacity to supply the whole of the EU.

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