Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands signed an initial contract with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca for more than 300 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine that is still in the experimental phase, Germany’s Health Ministry said on Saturday.
The development of the vaccine could be completed by the end of the year if all goes well, the ministry said, adding that the doses would be distributed relative to a country’s population size and all EU members could participate in the programme.
“Many countries in the world have already secured vaccines, Europe has not yet,” German Health Minister Jens Spahn said.
“Rapid coordinated action by a group of member states will create added value for all EU citizens in this crisis. Together with the Commission, we want to become even faster and stronger in negotiations in the future.”
Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza also commented on the deal, writing on Facebook that up “to 400 million doses of the vaccine” would be made available “for the entire European population.”
There was no initial indication about the value of the contract.
According to the German Health Ministry, the four countries have formed a vaccination alliance and are in talks with several companies that are researching promising vaccines against Covid-19.
AstraZeneca’s candidate vaccine, which is being developed with the University of Oxford, is one of a handful that is already in the clinical evaluation stage, according to the World Health Organization.
“In order for vaccines to be available in large numbers very quickly after possible approval this year or next year, production capacities must be contractually secured already now,” the German Health Ministry said in a statement.