The European Union is planning to double its supply of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine by purchasing up to 300 million additional doses, officials said Friday.
The deal would add to the EU’s existing 300 million-dose order — potentially giving the 27-nation bloc nearly half of the 1.3 billion doses that Pfizer and German partner BioNTech plan to produce this year.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, said it would buy 200 million doses that will be delivered starting in the second quarter of this year. The bloc would also have the option to buy 100 million more doses, officials said.
“This would enable the EU to purchase up to 600 million doses of this vaccine,” the commission said in a statement. That would be enough to vaccinate as many as 300 million of the EU’s 450 million people because each inoculation requires two doses.
But Pfizer and BioNTech indicated that the new agreement was still being discussed. The companies have also made deals to supply other countries with vaccines, including 200 million doses ordered by the US.
“We are in talks with the European Commission about an amendment to our existing supply agreement,” the companies said in a statement. “The substance of the ongoing conversations or any further details from them remain confidential.”
The announcement came as the commission grappled with concerns about its strategy of handling vaccine orders for all of its member nations. The EU has stood by its approach despite a slow start to vaccinations, saying big deliveries will arrive in the spring.
“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,” commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.
With Post wires