(AP) BRUSSELS — The European Union’s executive arm has signed a third vaccine contract with Pfizer and BioNTech through 2023 for an additional 1.8 billion doses of their COVID-19 shots.
The European commission says the deal will allow the buying of 900 million doses of the current shots and of a serum adapted to the virus’ variants, with an option to purchase an extra 900 million shots.
To avoid delivery delays, the deal with Pfizer-BioNTech stipulates production of doses must be based in the EU and essential components are sourced from the region.
The Commission says under the new deal, EU countries will have the possibility to donate some of their allocated doses to non-EU countries or through the U.N-backed effort known as COVAX, which is providing vaccines to low- and middle-income countries.
EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen by the end of this week, 260 million doses of vaccine will have been delivered in Europe. She acknowledged the slow start to vaccinations, brought on by supply issues.