Vaccines: Commission secures second deal
As the race for a vaccine mounts, the European Commission announced an official agreement with a second manufacturer, Sanofi-GSK, last Friday. Earlier, on 9 September, the EU executive had concluded talks with BioNTech-Pfizer. By securing the second contract, the EC will enable EU member states to purchase up to 300 million doses of the Sanofi-GSK vaccine. At a global level, Sanofi and GSK will also attempt to provide a significant portion of their vaccine supply in a timely manner through an alliance with the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility, the vaccine pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator for lower and middle-income countries.
Commission’s recommendations for testing
The Commission has published recommendations for a common EU-testing approach which set out concrete steps to support countries in the planning and organisation of their testing efforts during the different stages of the pandemic. The Health Security Committee, an advisory group within DG SANTE, has endorsed the recommendations with a view to streamlining national approaches and ensuring more coherent COVID-19 testing across the EU.
Funds for the transport of medical items
The EU is providing financial support through the Emergency Support Instrument (ESI) to 18 EU countries and to the UK to transport essential medical items to Europe with funding totalling €150 million. ESI has enabled the EU to finance cargo shipments between April and September this year, including life-saving personal protective equipment (PPE), medicines and medical equipment. For instance, it supported the transport of a shared shipment of more than 1,000 tonnes of essential PPE to the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Thanks to this instrument, the EU also financed the transport of more than 1,000 tonnes of PPE bought by the Italian Extraordinary Commissioner for the coronavirus emergency, and more than 400 tonnes of goggles, disposable gowns, masks and protective clothing to Lithuania by plane and train.
Commission’s contribution to COVAX
The Commission confirmed its participation in the COVAX Facility for equitable access to affordable COVID-19 vaccines, following its expression of interest on 31 August and its announcement of a contribution of 400 million euros. In a joint effort between the Commission and the 27 EU countries, Team Europe will contribute an initial €230 million in cash through a loan from the European Investment Bank, backed by the same amount in guarantees from the EU budget. A contribution of €230 million is equivalent to reserves or options to buy 88 million doses, which the EU would transfer to eligible Advanced Market Commitment (AMC) countries. This contribution is complemented with €170 million in financial guarantees from the EU budget.
EU-RESPONSE: Commission supports global clinical research
The Commission announced that it will support international clinical research networks with €15.7 million. This ambitious new research initiative — EU-RESPONSE —will establish a clinical research network to treat COVID-19 and other emerging infectious diseases. The funding is part of the Commission’s 1.4 billion euros pledge, one billion euros of which comes from Horizon 2020, for coronavirus research and innovation intended for the development of vaccines, new treatments and diagnostic tools to prevent the spread of the virus.