Pfizer and BioNTech have agreed to supply an additional 200 million doses of their coronavirus vaccine to the European Union, the companies announced on Wednesday.
This massive shipment will be sent in addition to the 300 million doses the pharmaceutical giant has already promised the EU in a previous agreement.
The EU is expected to receive all of the 200 million doses this year, with some 75 million arriving in the second quarter of the year.
250 million Europeans inoculated before the end of the year
In a statement, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, a Thessaloniki native, said on Wednesday:
“With this new agreement with the European Commission, we now expect to deliver enough doses to vaccinate at least 250 million Europeans before the end of the year.”
Bourla highlighted his company’s efforts to increase production of the shot, stating, “We are working relentlessly to support the further roll-out of vaccination campaigns in Europe and worldwide by expanding manufacturing capacity.”
Pfizer initially limited shipments of the inoculation to Europe in January so that it could work to ramp up production and meet the EU’s vaccine needs.
Vaccine “essential” in ending pandemic; EU vaccination rate lags
“Broad access to well-tolerated and highly efficacious vaccines is essential to halt the pandemic,” Dr. Ugur Sahin, CEO of BionNTech stated Wednesday.
“We have taken additional steps to expand our manufacturing capacity to two billion doses in 2021,” he continued.
The European Union has faced substantial criticism for its slow vaccination rate, especially compared to Israel and Britain.
According to the most recent data, only 4.8% of Europeans have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Over 40% of Israel’s population has received at least the first dose of the vaccine, and 28% of Israelis have been completely inoculated against the virus.
Anyone over the age of 16 in Israel can be vaccinated against Covid-19, and 80% of Israelis over the age of 60 have already received the shot.
The EU hopes that the increased doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the first such shot to be approved for use by the bloc, will help speed up inoculations across Europe.