EU’s Covid-19 Vaccine Talks Said to Hit Snag

29.07.2020 - European officials recently began talking to companies developing Covid-19 vaccines about supplying the EU’s 27 member states, in hope that none would fall behind bigger markets such as the US, which began making exclusive deals early on. Now Reuters suggests the talks may have hit a snag.

According to the news agency, the EU is negotiating with at least six vaccine developers, but the talks have not been extremely fruitful, in the main due to differences over pricing and liability.

Negotiations with US healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson, whose pharma arm Janssen is receiving funding from the country’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and already has a supply pact with the US. are at the most advanced stage; though the two sides are still discussing liability for unforeseen side effects.

Reuters said Sanofi – which also has a pact with BARDA and is receiving advance funding for a vaccine – is in discussions to supply 300 million doses to the EU. However, the French drugmaker wants an upfront payment, while the EU would prefer to pay in tranches. 

The Pfizer / BioNTech partnership, after signing pacts with the US and UK governments, is now talking to the EU about supplying 500 million doses if the Phase 3 trials that have just kicked off are successful. But while the American-German team would only require payment if the vaccine proves efficient, Reuters’ sources said the EU is concerned about the vaccine’s potential price.

Four EU countries on their own have already agreed with AstraZeneca to take 300 million doses, and Reuters said officials are nearing a deal to expand the pact to all 27 countries.