EU finalises order for 300 million more Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 shots

The European Union has rubber-stamped its order for a further 300 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, according to press reports.

Citing a European Commission spokesperson, Reuters reported the EU had finalised a preliminary contract for 300 million doses that was first announced a month ago.

This is on top of the 300 million doses ordered by the EU in November last year.

European nations are under pressure to step up their vaccination campaigns, which have got off to a comparatively slow start.

Some of the delays have been caused by issues at member state level where health systems have struggled with the demands of setting up vaccination schemes for millions of people at short notice.

But vaccine manufacturers are also struggling to keep pace with demand and are trying to step up production.

According to Reuters, the EU has ordered 200 million doses to be delivered this year and there are talks about a timeline for another 100 million shots.

The World Health Organization is concerned about the efficacy of the approved COVID-19 vaccines over the newly emerging variants.

In South Africa, authorities have halted vaccinations of front-line health workers with AstraZeneca’s rival vaccine after trials suggested low efficacy levels against the new strain.

However, a study published in Nature Medicine on Monday suggested that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine should work against variants that have emerged in the UK and South Africa.

There are limitations to the study – this was based on virus samples that were genetically modified to resemble the variants.

The engineered viruses do not include the full set of spike mutations seen on the variants in the UK or South Africa.

Findings were based on a study published online on a preprint server last week, which showed that the vaccine was slightly less effective at neutralising the South African variant than the UK one, although differences were small.

Feature image copyright BioNTech SE 2020, all rights reserved

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