SHARE
COPY LINK

VACCINE

EU agrees purchase of 300 million coronavirus vaccine doses

Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands have signed an agreement with pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca to guarantee the supply to the EU of 300 million doses of a possible coronavirus vaccine, the German government announced on Saturday.

EU agrees purchase of 300 million coronavirus vaccine doses
The development of a vaccine could be successfully completed by the end of the year, the German government believes. Photos: AFP

The four countries have signed an agreement with the group, formed in 1999 from the merger of the Swedish company Astra and British company Zeneca, which provides for the supply of a vaccine to all EU member states as soon it is discovered, said the German Ministry of Health.

AstraZeneca is partnering in the enterprise with Britain's Oxford University, which has pioneered the inoculation.

The firm has been building separate supply chains around the world during the tests, striking other deals earlier this month to double production capacity to more than two billion doses.

“This agreement will ensure that hundreds of millions of Europeans have access to Oxford University's vaccine following approval,” Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said in a statement.

“With our European supply chain due to begin production soon, we hope to make the vaccine available widely and rapidly.”

Oxford University began initial trials with hundreds of volunteers in April and is now expanding them to 10,000 participants.

The development of a vaccine could be successfully completed by the end of the year, German government sources told AFP.

The doses announced Saturday, potentially rising to 400 million, “must be distributed to all member states that want to participate, depending on the size of their population,” the German ministry said.

“In order for the vaccines to be available in large numbers very quickly after their possible approval this year or next year, production capacities must be guaranteed by contract now.”

According to the World Bank, the EU has a population of around 447 million.

German Minister of Health Jens Spahn said that “the swift and coordinated action of a group of member states” would see “all EU citizens” stand to benefit.

The European Commission defended the idea on Friday that EU countries should join up to guarantee privileged access to a future vaccine, arguing strongly for the establishment of advance purchase contracts.

With the laboratories trying to find a vaccine in record time — 12 to 18 months instead of several years in normal times – these advance payments allow them to invest in production, even though the clinical trials on humans have not yet been finalised.

This commitment would give member states the right to buy doses at a certain price once the vaccine is available, in return for the risk taken in terms of investments.

Major pharmaceutical groups are engaged in a race to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus, which has so far killed more than 417,000 people and infected more than 7.4 million worldwide.

Member comments

  1. It is important to mention that Oxford vacine are being tested by Instituto Butantã, São Paulo, Brazil.

  2. Correction, by Unifesp, São Paulo , Brazil.
    Instituto Butantan is testing other vaccine together withSinovac Biotec laboratory.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

COVID-19

Return of the health pass? How France plans to tackle new wave of Covid cases

With a sharp rise in reported cases in recent weeks, France appears to be in the middle of a new wave of Covid infections - so what measures are the government taking to control it?

Return of the health pass? How France plans to tackle new wave of Covid cases

Recorded case numbers in France are now over 50,000 a week, and have been since the beginning of June – this is a long way short of the 350,000 weekly cases recorded in January but still the highest since May and representing a steady an increase of 57 percent on the previous week.

Hospital admissions are also on the rise – standing at 707 admissions on Friday, June 24th compared to 400 daily admissions just two weeks earlier.

So what is the French government doing about it?

Since March, almost all Covid-related restrictions have been lifted in France – the health pass is no longer required for everyday activities such as visiting a bar or going to the gym and face masks are now merely advised in all indoor locations. Only hospitals and other health establishments such as nursing homes still have mandatory rules on face masks and health passes.

For international travel, fully vaccinated arrivals from most countries – including the UK, US and the whole of the EU – need only to show proof of vaccination, while unvaccinated travellers need to show proof of a recent negative Covid test – full details HERE.

Health pass

A proposed bill from the health ministry that was leaked to French media talks about re-imposing some form of pass sanitaire (health pass) to get numbers under control.

Some caveats to add here is that the document is only a proposal at this stage and the government has explicitly rules out – for the moment – reintroducing the vaccine pass. The health pass can be used to show either proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test, so it is less restrictive for the unvaccinated.

The document suggests re-introducing a health pass for travel – both to and from France – not for everyday activities like going to a café.

Testing and contact tracing

The bill also proposes extending the software involved in contact tracing and the Covid testing programme until March 2023, although this is described as a ‘precaution’.

Testing remains available on a walk-in basis at most French pharmacies and by appointment at health centres and medical labs. Tests are free for fully-vaccinated residents of France who have a carte vitale. Those are only visiting France, who are not registered in the French health system or who are not vaccinated have to pay – prices are capped at €22 for an antigen test and €54 for a PCR test.

READ ALSO How tourists in France can get a Covid test

Masks

The Minister of Health, Brigitte Bourguignon, said she is “asking the French to wear masks on public transport once again” during an interview with RTL on Monday, June 27th. She also recommended wearing a mask in all other enclosed crowded areas, as a “civic gesture.” However, she did not refer to the request as a government mandated obligation.

At present masks are not required, but are recommended, especially on busy services where it is impossible to practice social distancing.

Epidemiologist Pascal Crépey said: “In crowded trains, the risk of being in the presence of infected people is high. It would be a good idea for the population to wear the mask, to protect especially the most fragile and avoid massive infection rates.”

Local measures

French local authorities also have the power to impose certain types of restrictions if their area has a particularly high rate of infections.

At present, none have done so, but Nice mayor Christian Estrosi has spoken in favour of possibly bringing back the vaccine pass over the summer.

Second booster shots

A second booster shot of the Covid vaccine is now available to all over 60s and anyone who has a long-term medical condition or who is otherwise at risk from Covid.

It is recommended that the government increase public messaging advising those in high risk groups to get the second booster shot. The medical regular HAS has advised combining second booster shots with the seasonal flu vaccine campaign in September and October.

France is not, at present, considering widening the campaign to the entire popular, but the EU’s vaccine commissioner Thierry Breton says that if necessary, there would be enough doses to cover the whole population.

SHOW COMMENTS