The European Union reached a deal with Pfizer and BioNTech for 300 million additional doses of their COVID-19 vaccine, the head of the European Commission said on Friday, in a move that would give the EU nearly half of the firms’ global output for 2021.
Pfizer has said it can produce globally up to 1.3 billion doses this year. The new agreement with the EU comes on top of another order for 300 million doses that the bloc agreed with Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech in November.
“We now have agreed with BioNTech and Pfizer to extend this contract. With the new agreement we could purchase a total of up to an additional 300 million doses of the BioNTech vaccine,” von der Leyen told a news conference.
The move allows EU governments to order new doses from April, von der Leyen said, as the 27-nation bloc races to ramp up the vaccination of its 450 million people. Each recipient of the Pfizer vaccine need two doses to develop maximum protection.
Von der Leyen said 75 million of the additional doses would be delivered in the second quarter of this year, and the rest by the end of 2021.
The agreement includes a possible immediate order for 200 million doses and an additional option to buy another 100 million, the Commission said.
Doses are usually shared among EU states in proportion to their population, but it is unclear whether all governments will make orders based on the new contract.