EU adds new COVID-19 vaccine to its portfolio

Piero Cruciatti ©European Union, 2020

The The EU’s politically independent executive arm. It is responsible for drawing up proposals for new European legislation, and it implements the decisions of the European Parliament and the Council. European Commission approved another vaccine against the coronavirus to enter the European Market on Wednesday, 10 November, given the European Medicines Agency (EMA) assesses it to be safe to use. If the EMA’s gives the green light, the French pharmaceutical company Valneva is expected to deliver almost 27 million doses to EU The 27 countries that are part of the EU. See the list of all members here. Member States in 2022, with the possibility of supplying up to 33 million more in 2023. The contract comes as a relief to the French manufacturer after the Commission had decided in April that the vaccine was not ready for rollout. This is the 8th contract the EU has signed with a pharmaceutical company producing COVID-19 vaccines. It will increase the EU’s vaccine security because it can access a broader portfolio of vaccines and manufacturers. This seems particularly relevant after the Commission’s fallout with vaccine producer AstraZeneca last year over priority being given to the UK instead of the EU. A broader portfolio with vaccines from different companies should prevent a shortage of doses.

Valneva’s vaccine uses a technology that has so far not been used in EU-approved COVID-19 vaccine. Instead of being an mRNA (like BioNTech/Pfizer) or viral vector vaccine (AstraZeneca), the Valneva one works with an inactivated virus. This technology has long been used for flu and children’s vaccines and is therefore associated with a high level of safety. The company hopes that this trusted technology will convince people so far reluctant to get vaccinated to do so. Additionally, it is also adaptable to new variants of the virus which are developing continuously.

But the vaccine doses likely to be bought from Valneva are not necessarily intended for the EU The 27 countries that are part of the EU. See the list of all members here. Member States alone. Each Member State could also choose to donate parts of their doses to lower- and middle-income or other European countries. It is to be hoped that the focus here will lie on helping out states in the Global South whose vaccination rate is extremely low due to sheer lack of supply, rather than countries like Bulgaria and Romania who are experiencing low vaccination rates due to misinformation and distrust.  

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