The European Commission on Sunday reached an agreement with vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and BioNTech to speed up delivery of booster vaccines as the omikron variant spreads rapidly in Europe. In the first quarter of 2022, an additional 20 million doses will be delivered.
The Commission, which is negotiating with vaccine manufacturers on behalf of 27 member states, said in a press release that the first 5 million units will be delivered in January, another 5 million in February and the remaining 10 million in March.
The deal is expected to deliver 215 million doses to the European Union in the first three months of next year. Earlier this week, a similar agreement was signed with Moderna. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna booster shots are currently approved in the European Union.
“This is particularly good news for those Member States that need additional doses in the short term,” the commission said. “Given the projected rapid increase in infections from the omikron variant, this is now more urgent than ever.”
The committee also reports that it made a choice to order more than 200 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech. The contract also includes vaccines that are adapted to the omikron variant, if they are to be commercialized. “With this order, the European Union is preparing if modified vaccines are needed,” the press release said. 200 million doses are expected to be delivered from the second quarter of 2022.
According to figures from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), 67 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. However, the percentage is lower in many member states, while most governments are now starting a promotion campaign. Experts see the booster shot as the best protection available against the new variant.