Contract for possible coronavirus vaccine for Europe

The vaccine alliance formed by France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands reached agreement with AstraZeneca today on supplying a coronavirus vaccine. If development of the vaccine is successful, the pharmaceutical company will be able to provide Europe with 300 to 400 million doses of vaccine in stages from the end of 2020, health minister Hugo de Jonge wrote in a letter to parliament today.

Earlier this month France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands joined forces to form the Inclusive Vaccine Alliance, in order to have a stronger negotiating position in the race for a coronavirus vaccine.

Working together puts the countries in a better position to achieve fast results in their discussions with key stakeholders from the pharmaceutical industry when it comes to promising vaccine initiatives.

The contract agreement with AstraZeneca is the alliance’s first result in securing a potential coronavirus vaccine for European countries as soon as possible. The contract is initially for 300 million vaccines, which can be increased at a later date to 400 million.

All EU member states will have the opportunity to sign up to the deal, under the same conditions as the alliance members. If and when the vaccine becomes available, doses will be distributed based on the population in each country. The Netherlands could receive the first batch of vaccines at the end of 2020.

‘This is an important step that we’re taking today,’ Mr de Jonge said. ‘A vaccine is crucial in combating the virus. Until we have a vaccine, it will flare up time and again. That’s why everyone’s working so hard to develop a one. We believe in the power of cooperation, and we’re also hedging our bets because you never know which horse is going to win the race.’

The researchers at AstraZeneca have started a large-scale clinical trial in which the vaccine will be tested on 10,000 people. An additional trial with a further 30,000 participants will take place later this month.

The vaccines will be bought at cost price, but the exact price to be paid for the potential vaccine has not been divulged because of the alliance’s negotiating position.
Unfortunately, it is still very uncertain whether the vaccine will ultimately go into production. There is a chance of failure until the very last stage of development. The alliance is therefore exploring several promising initiatives, and is holding discussions with other pharmaceutical companies as well, with the aim of investing in several initiatives. Talks are also taking place with the European Commission in order to move forward together where possible.

In the days and weeks to come, the members of the alliance will talk with other EU member states and the Commission about how they can join the effort. This is a key objective for the alliance. The alliance is also exploring scope for an extra effort so that vulnerable countries, including in Africa, also benefit.