The European Commission called for global leaders to cooperate to buy bulk quantities of potential COVID-19 vaccines, to avoid “harmful competition” in the race for a shot and ensure any future vaccine is available for poor countries.
With around a dozen potential vaccines now in human trials, rich countries have been rushing to buy up doses in advance from pharma companies, to make sure they will have enough supply should any prove successful.
The European Commission, the EU executive arm, is worried that such competition could raise the prices of vaccines for everyone, and also leave many countries, mostly poor ones, struggling to obtain a supply.
“When it comes to fighting a global pandemic, there is no place for ‘me first’,” Ursula von der Leyen, President, EU Commission said.
The EU is planning to spend around $2.3 billion on the advance purchase of vaccines in testing on behalf of the 27 EU states.
EU countries are also pursuing their own initiatives, with Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands making a joint deal last week with AstraZeneca to buy upfront its vaccine under development.
Washington has so far made clear it is prioritising its own citizens for COVID-19 vaccines.
Von der Leyen said she is trying to convince “a significant number” of world leaders to join forces and buy vaccines upfront together.