EU makes plans to buy additional COVID-19 vaccines
After forecasts predicting there may be shortages of COVID-19 vaccines available, the EU has announced plans to allocate additional funding to buy more vaccines.
The Commission estimates that, in the coming year, supply could far outweigh demand. This comes as countries see a new surge in cases. It’s estimated that the total number of cases has now exceeded 30 million globally, and this shows no sign of slowing down at the moment.
According to the EU, the vaccination efforts led by the World Health Organization (WHO) could fall short of requirements. It says, it is “trying to be pragmatic as the total number of vaccines that could be produced globally next year is 2.4 billion.”
However, the announcement has been criticized as , despite previously supporting vaccines being shared fairly among the global population, buying more now could limit its availability, especially in less wealthy nations.
The vaccination scheme by the WHO, named “COVAX”, aims to provide 2 billion doses of the vaccine by the end of next year. Richer countries, such as the US and European countries, have, so far, been in a race to ensure they have their own supplies available.
In addition to this, the European Commission has published advice to its 27 member states’ governments, urging them to back the negotiations with vaccine makers.
So far, the EU has made deals with Sanofi and AstraZeneca. It has also planned talks to discuss the potential for acquiring more vaccines with pharmaceutical companies CureVac, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer.
If this goes ahead, it will require additional funding. A Commission spokesman said, “Member states are aware that they can make additional contributions to the ESI if we want to extend the portfolio, as there is only a finite amount of funding available for the ESI.”
So far, the emergency EU fund is set at €2 billion for buying vaccines. It’s still unclear at this point how much additional funding would be needed. But, according to the EU, talks are underway with national governments.