The European Union on Thursday concluded a deal with an American drugmaker to supply up to 400 million doses of its potential COVID-19 vaccine, bringing its total vaccine supply to 1.1 billion doses for the bloc’s 450 million people.
To secure the vaccines, the EU made an undisclosed down payment to Johnson & Johnson, which confirmed the deal in a statement in which it reiterated plans to allocate up to 500 million additional doses to poorer countries. EU states plan to pay for those but the price and liability conditions remained confidential.
This is the third COVID-19 purchasing deal the EU has closed as the world races to find and secure shots against the disease. The first two were with AstraZeneca and Sanofi.
The announcement came in light of a fresh spike across Europe forcing countries to reintroduce previously relaxed COVID-19 restrictions, including the shutdown of bars, restaurants and gyms.
The J&J deal follows supply contracts for 400 million doses of the potential vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and for 300 million doses of the shot being tested by a partnership between Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline.
The commission plans to ramp up its vaccine collection as it continues to pursue deals with manufacturers like Moderna , CureVac and a partnership between Pfizer and BioNTech. If confirmed, the EU’s total vaccine supply will be nearly 2 billion doses.
A senior EU source told Reuters news agency last month that the EU is in talks with Novavax for a seventh vaccine. If it strikes seven deals, the EU would be ahead of Britain and the United States, which each have concluded six supply contracts so far.
The J&J vaccine, which is being developed by its subsidiary, Janssen, is based on vector technology, the same used by AstraZeneca. Sanofi's is a protein-based jab.