TALLINN – The European Commission has presented a European strategy to accelerate the development, manufacturing and deployment of vaccines against COVID-19 and, in order to support companies in the swift development and production of a vaccine, the Commission will enter into advance purchase agreements in the extent of 2.7 billion euros with individual vaccine producers on behalf of the member states.
In order to support companies in the swift development and production of a vaccine, the Commission will enter into agreements with individual vaccine producers on behalf of the member states. In return for the right to buy a specified number of vaccine doses in a given time frame, the Commission will finance part of the upfront costs faced by vaccines producers. This will take the form of advance purchase agreements. Funding provided will be considered as a down-payment on the vaccines that will actually be purchased by member states, European Commission spokespeople said.
The related funding will come from a significant part of the 2.7 billion euro Emergency Support Instrument. Additional support will be available through loans from the European Investment Bank.
With the strategy published on Wednesday, the Commission will support efforts to accelerate the development and availability of safe and effective vaccines in a time frame between 12 and 18 months, if not earlier. Delivering on this complex undertaking requires running clinical trials in parallel with investing in production capacity to be able to produce millions, or even billions, of doses of a successful vaccine. The Commission is fully mobilized to support the efforts of vaccine developers in their endeavor.
The objectives of the strategy include ensuring the quality, safety and efficacy of vaccines; securing swift access to vaccines for member states and their populations while leading the global solidarity effort; ensuring equitable access to an affordable vaccine as early as possible.
The EU strategy rests on two pillars -- securing the production of vaccines in the EU and sufficient supplies for its member states through advance purchase agreements with vaccine producers via the Emergency Support Instrument, additional financing and other forms of support can be made available on top of such agreements. Additionally, adapting the EU's regulatory framework to the current urgency and making use of existing regulatory flexibility to accelerate the development, authorization and availability of vaccines while maintaining the standards for vaccine quality, safety and efficacy.
When taking the financing decision on what vaccines to support, the following non-exhaustive criteria will be taken into account, including soundness of scientific approach and technology used, speed of delivery at scale, cost, risk sharing, liability, coverage of different technologies, early engagement with EU regulators, global solidarity, and capacity to supply through development of production capacity within the EU.
There is always a risk that supported candidates fail during clinical trials. This strategy is therefore similar to an insurance policy, by transferring some of the risks from industry to public authorities in return for assuring member states of equitable and affordable access to a vaccine, should one become available.
The EU is contributing to the global effort for universal testing, treatment and vaccination by mobilizing resources through international pledging and by joining forces with countries and global health organisations through the Access To COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator collaborative framework. The Global Coronavirus Response pledging campaign raised 9.8 billion euros by the end of May 2020.
A second step is underway in partnership with Global Citizen and other governmental and non-governmental partners, culminating in a global pledging summit on June 27.