Brussels, Jan 9 (IANS) The European Union (EU) has secured a deal to double the supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, bringing its total to 600 million doses, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said.
"We have right now, access to 300 million doses of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine. Now the good news is that we have agreed with BioNTech-Pfizer to extend the contract," she said while addressing a press briefing on Friday.
"With the new agreement, we could purchase a total of up to an additional 300 million doses of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine.
"In other words this will allow us to double the amount of doses of the BioNTech-Pfizer," von der Leyen added.
The additional doses will be delivered starting in the second quarter of 2021, with 75 million being available in Q2 and the rest in Q3 and Q4.
With the 600 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses and 160 million doses of Moderna vaccine, both authorised for conditional marketing in the EU, the bloc would have an amount enough to vaccinate 380 million Europeans, which is "more than 80 percent of the European population", noted von der Leyen.
Pledging that more brands will be given greenlight "in the coming weeks and months", she said the EU has so far secured up to 2.3 billion doses from the most promising vaccine candidates for the bloc and its neighbourhood.
Addressing the criticism of the EU's slow start in the vaccine rollout when compared to the UK and the US, von der Leyen insisted that the bloc has taken "the right course of action", explaining that her Commission had to sift six from 160 vaccine candidates.
She affirmed that the commission would be monitoring the vaccination process along with the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
"Of course, we have to step up, it has to get more, we have to raise the numbers of vaccination rapidly," she admitted.