The European Commission announced that they will sign a deal to purchase up to 300 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German biotech company BioNTech on Wednesday.
This comes after early data from the last phase of vaccine trials released on Monday showed that the vaccine was 90% effective in preventing the virus which has killed nearly 1.3 million people worldwide.
Although many companies all over the world have been hard at work testing and developing vaccines for the virus, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, stated that the results released from the Pfizer vaccine trials make it the “the most promising vaccine so far.”
BioNTech began conducting research for vaccine development at the very start of the pandemic, in late January, anticipating the rapid and deadly spread of the virus. Pfizer, headed by Thessaloniki-born CEO Albert Bourla, partnered with the German company back in March in the race to find an effective vaccine.
The goal is to “deploy (the vaccine) quickly, everywhere in Europe,” prioritizing healthcare workers, senior citizens, and those with health conditions that make them especially vulnerable to the coronavirus, von der Leyen stated.
The European Commission has signed three other deals with several vaccine developers, with a total of nearly one billion doses to be available to EU member states upon their release. When the vaccines are available, all member states will have access to them at the same time.
It is important to have a “broad portfolio” of effective vaccines based on “different technologies” and research, von der Leyen said.
Although many expect a vaccine in the near future, von der Leyen urged caution and strict observance of anti-virus measures on the part of EU citizens until the vaccines are released, stressing “We are almost there. In the meantime, let us be prudent, and stay safe.”