The new deal, which she hailed as “good news”, adds to the EU’s vaccine stock as it strives to meet a target of fully vaccinating 70 percent of adults by mid-September.
The European Union has bought up to 300 million extra Covid-19 vaccine doses from US firm Moderna, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday.
The commission now has access to a vaccine “portfolio” of 2.6 billion doses of three EU-authorised vaccines and three more prospective ones, to be provided this year and next, von der Leyen told a media conference.
Numerically, that is more than enough for the EU’s 450 million inhabitants, with the excess going to neighbouring countries, she said.
But another reason for such a big stock was to hedge against “the possibility for the virus to mutate”, as is already being seen with variants, some of which appear to be at least partially resistant to some of the current vaccines.
“We will always have to be vigilant to be able, if there are escaped mutations, to fight them with improved vaccines,” she said.
– Stuttering rollout –
The bloc’s 27 members face a vaccine supply crunch in the near term because of a drastic shortfall in doses from AstraZeneca.
The Anglo-Swedish company is providing only 25 to 40 percent of the more than 100 million doses it had originally promised for the first quarter of this year, which were meant to jumpstart the EU’s vaccination programmes.