Coronavirus: Commission concludes exploratory talks with Novavax to secure a new potential vaccine
Today, the European Commission concluded exploratory talks with the pharmaceutical company Novavax with a view to purchasing its potential vaccine against COVID-19. The envisaged contract with Novavax would provide for the possibility for all EU Member States to purchase 100 million doses, and they could further purchase up to 100 million more doses.
Today’s finalisation of the exploratory talks with Novavax come in addition to an already secured broad portfolio of vaccines to be produced in Europe, including the contracts already signed with AstraZeneca, Sanofi-GSK, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, BioNtech-Pfizer, CureVac, and Moderna. This diversified vaccines portfolio will ensure Europe is well prepared for vaccination, once the vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective. Member States could decide to donate the vaccine to lower and middle-income countries or to re-direct it to other European countries.
President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “I am happy to announce that we continue to broaden our portfolio of diverse vaccines. Today’s step toward reaching an agreement with Novavax demonstrates the Commission’s commitment to ensure all possible options are explored to access vaccines against COVID-19. Access to more vaccines will lead to a sufficient coverage for beating the pandemic.”
Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “We are close to adding a seventh promising vaccine to our portfolio and therefore increasing our chances to have the best possible choice for a safe and effective vaccine. All Member States must now ensure that they are ready to start deploying some of them as from early 2021 once proven to be safe and effective. Vaccination will determine how we will live and work in 2021. In the lead up to the festive period, we are asking citizens to continue their efforts to control the pandemic. Everyone must play their part in keeping further resurgences at bay while we wait for a vaccine.”
Novavax is a biotechnology company developing next-generation vaccines for serious infectious diseases. Their vaccine is a protein subunit vaccine which are already in phase 3 clinical trial stage.
The Commission, with the support of EU Member States, has taken a decision to support this vaccine based on a sound scientific assessment, the technology used, the company’s experience in vaccine development and its production capacity to supply all EU Member States.
The European Commission presented on 17 June a European strategy to accelerate the development, manufacturing and deployment of effective and safe vaccines against COVID-19. In return for the right to buy a specified number of vaccine doses in a given timeframe, the Commission finances part of the upfront costs faced by vaccines producers in the form of Advance Purchase Agreements. Funding provided is considered as a down-payment on the vaccines that will actually be purchased by Member States.
Since the high cost and high failure rate make investing in a COVID-19 vaccine a high-risk decision for vaccine developers, these agreements will therefore allow investments to be made that otherwise might not happen.
Once vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective and have been granted market authorisation by the European Medicines Agency, they need to be quickly distributed and deployed across Europe. On 15 October, the Commission set out the key steps that Member States need to take to be fully prepared, which includes the development of national vaccination strategies. The Commission is putting in place a common reporting framework and a platform to monitor the effectiveness of national vaccine strategies and has adopted further actions to reinforce preparedness and response measures across the EU and a strategy on staying safe from COVID-19 during winter offering further support to Member States in the deployment of vaccines.
The Commission is also committed to ensuring that everyone who needs a vaccine gets it, anywhere in the world and not only at home. No one will be safe until everyone is safe. This is why it has raised almost €16 billion since 4 May 2020 under the Coronavirus Global Response, the global action for universal access to tests, treatments and vaccines against coronavirus and for the global recovery and has confirmed its interest to participate in the COVAX Facility for equitable access to affordable COVID-19 vaccines everywhere. As part of a Team Europe effort, the Commission announced is contributing with €400 million in guarantees to support COVAX and its objectives in the context of the Coronavirus Global Response. On 12 November, the European Union announced the contribution of an additional €100 million in grant funding to support the COVAX Facility.
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Overview of the Commission’s Response
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Factsheet: Authorisation process