BRUSSELS –– The European Commission proposed on Tuesday to accelerate the delivery of ten million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for the second quarter of 2021.
The proposal came on the heels of an agreement with the vaccine manufacturer, but it remains to be approved by the European Union (EU) member states in the joint Steering Board, the executive arm of the EU said in a statement.
The accelerated ten million vaccine doses would be drawn forward from the 100 million doses ordered by the EU in its second contract with Pfizer/BioNTech. This delivery was originally scheduled for the third and fourth quarters of this year.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stressed that the next quarter is critical for the rollout of vaccination strategies in the EU member states. This accelerated delivery will bring the total supply of Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccines to the EU to over 200 million doses in the next quarter.
“This is very good news. It gives member states room to maneuver and possibly fill gaps in deliveries,” von der Leyen added.
The European Commission expects 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to be delivered per month, or a grand total of 300 million doses for the second quarter.
In addition to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the jabs produced by Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen have also received conditional marketing authorization from the European Medicines Agency (EMA). All these are now in the EU’s vaccines portfolio.
Meanwhile, France Germany, Italy, Spain, Slovenia, Cyprus and Portugal on Monday joined the growing number of countries that have suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine over blood clot concerns.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday that it was still conducting its safety review of the AstraZeneca vaccine, while the EMA is expected to make its decision soon.
The European Commission aims to vaccinate 70 percent of the EU’s adult population by this summer.