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European Commission approves contract for 200M doses of third COVID-19 vaccine

The commission sealed a contract with Janssen Pharmaceutica for member states to purchase 200 million doses of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine, in the third such advance purchase agreement.

The commission has already signed contracts with AstraZeneca and Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline, and has successfully concluded talks with German biotechs CureVac and BioNTech, and with US company Moderna.

Health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said the Janssen deal increases the chances the EU will have access to an effective vaccine. “More agreements will follow, and we remain determined in our search for a successful and safe vaccine to combat this deadly pandemic,” she said.

Janssen’s COVID-19 vaccine uses the AdVac technology platform that was used to develop and manufacture the company’s recently approved Ebola virus vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine is in phase III clinical trials.

In return for the right to buy a specified number of vaccine doses in a given timeframe, the commission finances part of manufacturers’ upfront costs through advance purchase agreements, that subsequently act as down-payments on the vaccines when they are purchased by member states.

The high cost and high failure rate make investing in COVID-19 vaccines high-risk. The commission says the advance purchase agreements will allow investments to be made that otherwise would probably not happen.

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