US pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech will deliver an additional 75 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the EU until summer, the head of the European Commission said on Monday.
“BioNTech/ Pfizer will deliver 75 million of additional doses in the second quarter of the year - and up to 600 millions in total in 2021”, Ursula von der Leyen said in a Twitter post.
On Sunday, the UK-based AstraZeneca also agreed to deliver 9 million more jabs to the bloc during the first three months of the year, making it 40 million doses for the period.
This came as a sign of reconciliation after last week’s dispute between the EU’s executive body and biotechnological firms.
The companies were criticized by top EU officials after having announced delays in vaccine shipments, arguing that the bloc financially contributed to their research in development of the jabs in order to receive the jabs first.
As a result, the European Commission introduced on Friday a transparency and authorization mechanism on coronavirus vaccines produced in EU countries.
Under the new rules, before giving export authorization for COVID-19 jabs, member states will have to notify the European Commission whether a pharmaceutical company timely delivered the vaccines within the bloc.
The EU, which has a population of 450 million, signed advanced purchase agreements with six vaccine producers -- Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, CureVac, Johnson Johnson, and Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline -- to buy about 2.3 billion vaccine doses.
On Sunday, von der Leyen and Commissioners Stella Kyriakides and Thierry Breton discussed the launch of the bloc’s bio-defense preparedness program with the heads of the pharma companies via videoconference.
The new initiative aims at identifying new health risks and to finance research in order to tackle with a combination of public funds and know-how of the private sector.
The European Commission’s vaccine strategy suggests EU member states would immunize at least 70% of the adult population by summer.