The Pfizer / BioNTech consortium was ahead of the rest of the companies with a very effective vaccine against Covid-19 (it protects in 95% of cases) and the EU wants to take advantage of it. The European Commission announced this Friday that it will double the purchase of these companies with 300 million additional doses of Cominarty. This supply will immunize two thirds of the community population, practically enough to achieve herd immunity.
This purchase comes to bet on the only available vaccine approved by the Commission, waiting for Moderna to arrive in the next few days, which will distribute 160 million doses this year, enough for 80 million Europeans. In this way, it guarantees inoculation to 380 million people of the 446 million population of the club of 27.
In addition, there are still other candidates to come from other companies with which the Executive of Ursula von der Leyen has signed supply agreements: AstraZeneca, Janssen, CureVac and Sanofi. Although these are going to take longer to arrive at the moment and progress in vaccination in the coming months will depend fundamentally on Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna. The European Medicines Agency announced this Friday that it will analyze the AstraZeneca alternative at the end of January, which has yet to clear up doubts about its effectiveness.
In any case, Pfizer and Moderna products are not going to arrive all at once, but throughout the year, which is why more vials or more alternatives would be needed at the beginning of the year. For now, the Sanofi will not arrive until the end of the year, due to a failure in its first attempt. Janssen’s is expected in the first trimester, although he has not yet reported on the efficacy found in the phase III study he is currently developing. That of CureVac, which just partnered with Bayer to strengthen testing and distribution logistics, is not expected until the first half.
“We have agreed with BioNTech / Pfizer to extend this contract to acquire 300 million doses,” of which 75 million will be distributed in the second quarter of the year, Von der Leyen said in a press appearance. The rest of the purchase can arrive in the third and fourth quarters. “The advantage of this news is that we already have a closed contract, we do not need long negotiations, the vaccine is already approved, the authorization process is therefore done, and the Member States know it and know how to manage it,” he said. For Von der Leyen, this news “gives security to vaccination plans” and “creates a new impetus for the vaccination campaign in Europe and neighboring countries.”
In addition, with this purchase, the EU becomes the consortium’s largest customer, as it acquires 600 million doses of the 1.3 billion that these companies intend to manufacture in 2021. It remains to be seen how these companies are able to meet the enormous global demand of the product. At the moment, the German part of the consortium, BioNTech, is still finalizing a production plant in Marburg.
On the other hand, it was also learned on Friday that Cominarty appears to be able to protect against new highly transmissible variants of the coronavirus discovered in Great Britain and South Africa, according to a laboratory study conducted by the American pharmaceutical company.