European Union, Pfizer work on an agreement to pay more for COVID-19 vaccines in exchange for a smaller volume


Brussels is discussing with Pfizer and BioNTech the possibility of reducing up to 500 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine that the EU has promised to buy this year in exchange for a higher price, said a source with knowledge of the talks.

An extension to the delivery deadline, possibly until the second half of 2024, is also on the table, the source said. They declined to be identified because the conversations are confidential.

Negotiations are ongoing and it is not clear what the final result may be.

The talks come amid a global glut of COVID-19 vaccines, and relate to the largest vaccine contract ever signed by the EU as the pandemic raged.

A European Commission spokesperson requested comment on the talks, calling on vaccine manufacturers to work with member states and the Commission “to ensure that agreements reflect the changing situation.”

The Commission “will continue with a view to adapting the supply of vaccine doses in the coming years and extending it over a longer period of time,” the spokesperson said, declining to comment on prices or other details.


A Pfizer spokesman declined to comment on the details of the discussions, but said the company has shown a continued commitment to accommodating the concerns of EU member states.

Regarding pricing, the Pfizer spokesperson said: “We have always had a tiered pricing approach for the COVID-19 vaccine, guided by agreed volumes and national revenue levels, to ensure fairness between deals with country profiles. similar economics”.

A BioNTech spokesperson added that his company “continues to work with the European Commission and governments to find pragmatic solutions respecting the fundamental principles agreed between the parties at the conclusion of the agreement.”

A medical worker prepares a dose of Pfizer’s bivalent coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination center in Nice, France, December 7, 2022. The EU is working to pay more for less volume of Pfizer vaccines after agreeing to buy half a billion doses at the beginning of the year.
(REUTERS/Eric Gaillard)

global excess

Although vaccine gluts are a problem around the world, Europe is facing a particularly large glut.

The majority of people in the EU who wanted a primary course of the COVID-19 vaccine, and those who were later eligible for boosters, received them. The EU medicines regulator warned in November that uptake of booster doses had been disappointing.

In May 2021, Brussels signed a contract with Pfizer and BioNTech to purchase 900 million doses, with an option for an additional 900 million doses, by the end of 2023.

About half or more of the first 900 million doses of that contract have yet to be delivered because demand fell last year. The EU has not exercised the additional option.

Some 328 million people in the EU out of a total population of around 450 million have received the primary course of a vaccine, according to Our World in Data.


The unwanted dose talks are the latest in a series of negotiations over changes to the 2021 contract. Brussels is under pressure to reduce the volume as EU member states complain about tight budgets and are unwilling to spend money in unnecessary doses.

At 19.50 euros ($21.22) in the May 2021 contract, the amount European governments are contractually obligated to pay this year amounts to between 7.8 and 9.75 billion euros.

It is not clear what the renegotiated price would be in Europe. In the United States, Pfizer expects to charge a list price of $110 to $130 per dose in the fall, although that price does not include discounts.

EU officials have said for months that there is a mismatch between supply and demand for COVID-19 vaccines.

“We are no longer at the height of the crisis, and this directly affects our demand for vaccines, while public finances are under great pressure at the moment,” EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said in a statement. European Council meeting in December.

“Our vaccine contracts must take into account the current situation, and companies must show flexibility in this regard,” he added.


Last summer, the two sides agreed to pause deliveries to give EU countries time to manage what they had received. That came after EU governments warned Pfizer and other companies that millions of doses could go to waste.

In November, they signed an amendment giving countries the ability to deliver and store doses in warehouses, another sign of oversupply.


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