Wednesday

8th Feb 2023

EU wants to pay in advance for promising vaccines

  • In an effort to find a successful vaccine fast, companies are building up production and trying promising drugs at the same time (Photo: Hospital Clínic)

The EU Commission wants member states' support to pay some of the costs upfront for companies working on potential Covid-19 vaccines and secure doses for European citizens.

Under its "vaccine strategy" to be presented next Wednesday (17 June), the EU executive plans to sign contracts with pharmaceutical companies working on possible vaccines on behalf of the 27 member states.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

EU health ministers will discuss the plans with the commission when they meet on Friday (12 June).

The commission argued it makes more sense for EU countries to negotiate together rather than in parallel and possibly in competition with one another with firms to secure a vaccine and supply for citizens.

The commission and EU countries' experts would negotiate with companies and agree in an advance payment that firms could use to upgrade their production facilities and look for raw material, even as trials for potential vaccines are still ongoing.

In preliminary talks, companies have told the commission they need public authorities to help "derisk the investment" in potential vaccines.

In order to secure a successful vaccine fast, companies need to build capacities at the same time as they put potential vaccines through trials that eventually might or might not be successful.

The EU would help with those costs, and take that risk, in exchange for commitment from these companies to provide the vaccine to the EU when it is successful and ready.

"We provide funding, they invest, prepare the vaccine, and if successful, they give it to us, with the risk that some of of the potential vaccines we invest in won't work," a commission official said.

Ultimately, the member states would be buying the vaccines and governments would decide on who gets access to the drug first, with most likely health care and frontline workers getting vaccinated first.

The commission aims at signing contracts with several companies to hedge bets. For now it has set aside €2.7bn from the EU budget for advanced payments.

'Contract, not subsidy'

"We are not talking here about subsidies to companies, we are talking about contracting for the vaccine, reflecting the cost of producing it," the commission official said.

The executive will be looking at companies that have the potential to develop the drug fast, whose vaccine has already entered the clinical trials phase or is very close to that.

The commission is also looking for companies that have a very strong production capacity in Europe. "We look at production facility, not the nationality of company," the commission official added.

The official said the EU needs to secure around 300-600 million doses of the vaccine depending on how many doses are needed per person for immunisation.

The EU executive also proposes temporarily lifting the requirement to have an environmental risk assessment on possible GMOs used to develop the vaccine, because it would delay the process. But the member states and the EU parliament need to agree to this move.

Recently, an "alliance" between Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands was also forged to fund and secure vaccine for Europeans.

The commission official said they are not competing with the alliance and, within a matter of days, they will work out how to combine their efforts.

Once member states agree to task the commission with negotiating with companies, the EU countries could not negotiate themselves with the same companies, but could contract firms that have not signed agreements with the EU executive.

Commission plans strategy to 'maximise' vaccine access

The EU Commission plans a vaccine stategy to make sure all citizens have access to it once it is ready, while it is also seeking to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies on securing the vaccine.

EU launches funding drive for Covid-19 vaccine

The European Commission launches on Monday an initiative to raise €7.5bn to speed up the development of vaccines, treatment and testing capacity, ensuring that is equally "available to everyone and at affordable prices" and avoiding nationalisms.

EU still divided on recovery but Denmark relaxes position

Ahead of EU leaders' first online discussion on the EU recovery and budget plans, EU countries remain divided on the key issues in the economic package. They will need to hammer them out in person in July.

EU Commission ready to play bigger role in health sector

The public health crisis caused by the coronavirus in member states has pushed the European Commission to play a more active in the field of health, especially funding the development of an effective Covid-19 vaccine.

How EU aims - hopefully - to secure vaccine by end of 2020

The European Commission hopes to have 30m doses of AstraZeneca's potential coronavirus vaccine before the end of this year, to be distributed on a population-based pro-rata basis among the 27 EU countries - until the 300m doses negotiated arrive.

Analysis

MEPs push for greater powers for workers' councils

European Works Councils can play a key role for workers and their unions to bargain effectively — but what are they, why have they been neutered, and why is big business objecting to greater powers?

Latest News

  1. Eight EU states press for more Turkey-style migrant swap deals
  2. EU buries head deeper in sand over Israel's apartheid
  3. Polish MEP also went on freelance Azerbaijan trip
  4. Why Europe's interminable compromises are a virtue
  5. Wales' message to Europe: 'We'll be back'
  6. MEPs to vote on risky 'hydrogen for home heating' rule
  7. The man who won't stop filing info requests until every EU doc is public
  8. EU hands Libya coast guard boats ahead of migration summit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWWEU Social Dialogue review – publication of the European Commission package and joint statement of ETUFs
  2. Oxfam InternationalPan Africa Program Progress Report 2022 - Post Covid and Beyond
  3. WWFWWF Living Planet Report
  4. EFBWWEFBWW Executive Committee report on major abuses, labour crime and subcontracting
  5. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  6. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  2. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us