EU doubles BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine order to 600 mn jabs
The EU has struck a deal to double its supply of the BioNTech/Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to 600 million doses, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday, AFP reports.
Authorities in the 27-nation bloc have been hit with rising criticism that the vaccine rollout that started December 27 has been too slow, especially compared with countries such as the United States or former EU member Britain.
"We have right now, access to 300 million doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine," von der Leyen told a press conference, adding: "With the new agreement we could purchase a total of up to an additional 300 million doses."
As well as the Moderna vaccine authorised for use in the EU, von der Leyen said: "We have already secured an amount of doses that we need to vaccinate 380 million Europeans, and this is more than 80 percent of the European population".
She said other vaccine authorisations were expected "in the coming weeks and months" so "Europe will have more than enough vaccine within a reliable timeframe".
Leaders will discuss coordination on the fight against the pandemic at a videosummit on January 21, a spokesman said.
Von der Leyen insisted the Commission had taken the right course of action on vaccines.
She said global competition for promising candidates was fierce when it started negotiations early last year on behalf of the EU's member states.
The EU had to sift through 160 vaccine candidates to arrive at the six it retained as the most likely to work and feasible to distribute on a massive scale, she said.