the European Commission approved the eighth contract with a pharmaceutical company with a view to purchasing its potential vaccine against COVID-19. The contract with Valneva provides for the possibility for all EU Member States to purchase almost 27 million doses in 2022. It also includes the possibility to adapt the vaccine to new variant strains, and for Member States to make a further order of up to 33 million additional vaccines in 2023.
The contract with Valneva comes in addition to an already secured broad portfolio of vaccines to be produced in Europe, including the contracts already signed with AstraZeneca, Sanofi-GSK, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, BioNtech-Pfizer, CureVac, Moderna, and Novavax. This diversified vaccines portfolio will ensure Europe is well prepared for vaccination, once the vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective. Member States could decide to donate the vaccine to lower and middle-income countries or to re-direct it to other European countries.
President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “The contract allows for the vaccine to be adapted to new variants. Our broad portfolio will help us to fight COVID and its variants in Europe and beyond. The pandemic is not over. Everyone who can should get vaccinated.”
Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “Our EU Vaccines Strategy continues to deliver, at a time when COVID-19 case numbers are unfortunately rising again across the EU. The Valneva vaccine adds another option to our broad portfolio, once it is proven to be safe and effective by the European Medicines Agency. We continue to support Member States in their vaccination efforts, and the message remains the same: trust the science, and vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate.”
Valneva is a European biotechnology company developing an inactivated virus vaccine, made of the live virus through chemical inactivation. This is a traditional vaccine technology, used for 60-70 years, with established methods and high level of safety. Most of the flu vaccines and many childhood vaccines use this technology. This is currently the only inactivated vaccine candidate in clinical trials against COVID-19 in Europe.
The Commission, with the support of EU Member States, has taken a decision to support this vaccine based on a sound scientific assessment, the technology used, the company’s experience in vaccine development and its production capacity to supply all EU Member States.
The European Commission presented on 17 June 2020 a European Strategy to accelerate the development, manufacturing and deployment of effective and safe vaccines against COVID-19. In return for the right to buy a specified number of vaccine doses in a given timeframe, the Commission finances part of the upfront costs faced by vaccines producers in the form of Advance Purchase Agreements.
In view of the current and new escape SARS-CoV-2 variants, the Commission and the Member States are negotiating new agreements with companies already in the EU vaccine portfolio that would allow to purchase rapidly adapted vaccines in sufficient quantities to reinforce and prolong immunity.
In order to purchase the new vaccines, Member States may use the REACT-EU package, one of the largest programmes under the new instrument Next Generation EU that continues and extends the crisis response and crisis repair measures.