The European Union is ready to sign a contract for 1.8 billion doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, following delays in the supply of vaccines from AstraZeneca. In his article New York Times describes how the EU and Pfizer came to an agreement.
Vaccinations in the European Union were not going well in February, according to the NYT, with many EU countries in lockdown, recording a large number of coronavirus cases and deaths. AstraZeneca reported problems in production and, consequently, in the availability of vaccines, which put the president of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, at the center of criticism.
According to the report, during the month, the President of the Commission kept in touch, through constant phone calls and messages, with Pfizer CEO Albert Burla. During the negotiations, it became clear that Pfizer could offer more vaccine doses to the EU, and Brussels is moving in that direction. That personal diplomacy played a big role in the agreement to be signed this week with the EU to “reserve” 1.8 billion doses from Pfizer, the New York Times pointed out.
The new contract will include an order for 900 million payments by 2023, with the option to deliver another 900 million doses, von der Leyen said in an interview. The agreement will make the European Union Pfizer’s largest customer, with 300 million doses delivered to the United States to date. The convention will allow the European Union to resell or donate vaccines to its partners and poorer countries, giving it an opportunity for “vaccine diplomacy,” and Pfizer can make billions of dollars from it.
Ms von der Layen and Mr Burla first contacted each other in January when the CEO of Pfizer asked to explainwhy his company had to temporarily stop supplying vaccines while upgrading production facilities in Belgium.
In November, the EU signed an initial agreement with the company for 200 million payments, with the option to add another 100 million. By the end of March, when the plant received approval, it had already produced 11 million doses, which were soon sent to the European Union.
In his statement, Mr Burla said that he and Ms von der Leyen developed “deep trust because we entered into deep discussions.” “She knew the details of the mutations, she knew the details of the whole process. This made the discussion more interesting, ”he said.