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World

EU expects more than a billion COVID shots by end of September, document shows

  • EU to easily meet vaccination targets, 1.5 bln doses by year-end.
  • Doses coming from four drugmakers, not Sanofi, CureVac - EU doc.
  • EU leaders back goal of donating at least 100mln doses in 2021.
  • WHO's Tedros asks for much more.
25 May, 2021

BRUSSELS: The European Union expects to have received more than a billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of September from four drugmakers, a document presented to EU leaders on Tuesday shows.

The document, seen by Reuters and prepared by the European Commission, shows the EU is confident of having enough vaccines to immunize its entire eligible population by the end of September, well beyond the initial goal of inoculating 70% of the adult population by the end of the summer.

More precisely, the EU expects to get 413 million doses in the second quarter of this year, and another 529 million in the July-September period. It received 106 million vaccines in the first quarter.

By the end of the year, the EU expects to receive another 452 million doses, for a total of 1.5 billion.

The estimates take into account only vaccines from four drugmakers: Pfizer-BionTech, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and Moderna.

They exclude doses from German biotech firm CureVac and French drugmaker Sanofi, which have signed contracts with the EU for hundreds of millions of doses but are struggling to develop their vaccines and get them approved by EU regulators.

The numbers are in line with public commitments and previous announcements, but also include previously unknown targets for the second half of the year.

The EU has also said it plans to share this year at least 100 million doses with poorer nations outside the bloc .

EU leaders meeting on Tuesday confirmed that commitment in a joint document but did not make it more ambitious after the Commission's estimates on deliveries. Vaccines could also be used for a third shot or against variants.

"We need hundreds of millions more doses," World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday, after thanking the EU for its commitment to donating 100 million vaccines.

The COVAX programme for distributing vaccines across the world, backed by the WHO and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, has so far shipped only about 70 million vaccines of the 2 billion planned for this year, as wealthy nations have reserved most of those available.

LION'S SHARE

Pfizer and BioNTech account for more than half the supplies in the second quarter of this year and for nearly 40% of total deliveries in the third quarter, making it by far the main supplier to the EU, the document shows.

It also shows that the two companies will deliver 200 million doses in the July-September period, nearly completing their commitment to supplying 600 million vaccines under two initial contracts with the EU.

The two drugmakers are also expected to deliver roughly another 200 million doses in the fourth quarter of the year, the largest part of which would come from a third contract for up to 1.8 billion doses the EU signed with them in May and which runs until 2023.

Pfizer was not immediately available for a comment.

Deliveries in the second half of the year also include several millions from AstraZeneca, even though it had been required to deliver all its 300 million contracted doses by the end of June.

The company in March said it would aim to deliver only 100 million doses to the EU by the end of June due to production problems and export restrictions.

The EU document is based on the company's estimates rather than on the EU request to deliver 120 million doses by the end of the second quarter.

That request was made by EU lawyers in a Brussels court earlier in May, with judges expected to decide next month.

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