The research and development of effective
vaccines is in full swing the world over. The race to secure access to
promising development projects has been on for quite some time now. As early as
mid-March 2020, the news about the US President Donald Trump wanting to secure
the work on vaccine development by a German company for the USA became publicly
known. The European Commission has now concluded talks with pharmaceutical
companies on the purchase of potential COVID-19 vaccines.
Worldwide race for vaccine doses
In its EU strategy for COVID-19 vaccines, the European Commission has set out its
two-pillar approach to ensuring access to a potential vaccine. We reported on
that in the 06/2020 and 07/2020 newsletter issues.
While there is uncertainty as to which
manufacturers will receive EMA approval for an effective and safe vaccine and
when, upfront costs for research and development, and for building up
production capacities by vaccine manufacturers, must be financed now in the
form of advanced purchase agreements. The European Commission has, therefore,
been holding talks with several manufacturers who have demonstrated promising
vaccine developments. For an overview of current ongoing vaccine projects by
development phase, please visit, for instance the: WHO website.
At the end of the talks, the President of the
European Commission, Ms von der Leyen emphasised the need for Europe to invest
in a diverse range of promising vaccines, based on different technologies, as
part of a broad European vaccination strategy.
Securing access throughout Europe
With the conclusion of the exploratory
negotiations with Sanofi-GSK, the aim is to conclude a contract that will allow
all EU Member States to purchase the vaccine. Provided that a COVID-19 vaccine
proves to be safe and effective, the European Commission may have the contractual
framework to purchase 300 million doses on behalf of its Member States.
The European Commissioner for Health and Food
Safety, Ms Stella Kyriakides believes that the vaccine is the most reliable way
out of the crisis. This contract offers EU citizens equal access to the
Further exploratory negotiations with the
manufacturer Johnson & Johnson were concluded on 13 August. Provided that
the current vaccine development receives approval, a contractual pre-emption
right for 200 million vaccine doses will be agreed and can be extended by a
further 200 million vaccine doses.
At the same time, the EU Member States –
Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands have joined together to form a
Vaccine Alliance. The Vaccine Alliance acts in addition to the activities of
the European Commission and aims to secure a vaccine to supply all EU Member
States. In mid-June, a contract for procuring a volume of 400 million vaccine
doses was signed with the pharmaceutical group, AstraZeneca. The German
Minister of Health, Mr Spahn, considers this important as many countries in the
world have already secured vaccines.
Advanced purchase agreement
The exploratory negotiations concluded by the
European Commission with Sanofi-GSK and Johnson & Johnson will be continued
with the aim of concluding an advanced purchase agreement. These will be
financed from the Emergency Aid Reserve. Further potential vaccines with
different profiles from different manufacturers will expand the portfolio.
Provided that the phase III clinical trials
show the desired immune response, Sanofi-GSK's potential vaccine is to be
submitted to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for approval in June 2021.