Purchasing of Covid-19 vaccines through an initiative co-led by the World Health Organisation has been rejected by the European Union because that process is slow and of high cost, said a report published by the news agency Reuters quoting two EU sources.
The report also noted that the EU is in talks with potential vaccine makers for doses that are cheaper than $40.
Critics have said that this stance or approach by the EU reflects that the bloc has only partially adhered to a global approach of equitable distribution and access to Covid-19 vaccines all over the world, even though it has claimed to support such an initiative which shows that the EU has prioritized ensuring supply of vaccines for its citizens.
This stance of the EU could also be a blow to the COVAX initiative, led by the WHO, aimed at securing access to Covid-19 vaccines for everyone all across the world, the report noted.
“Using COVAX would lead to higher prices and later supplies,” one of the two officials reportedly told Reuters.
The report said that the aim of the COVAX mechanism is to make advanced purchase of vaccines with a target price of $40 a shot. EU officials reportedly said that with its own scheme for upfront purchases, it will be possible for EU to purchase vaccine shots at a cheaper price.
Reuters could not get a comment from GAVI, a public-private vaccine alliance which also co-leads the COVAX initiative. A spokeswoman for GAVI did not comment on the issue of the $40 target and noted that the exact price of future doses was impossible to predict at this stage.
“Any pricing structure will need to reflect (the) at-risk investments in R&D and manufacturing necessary, as well as meet expectations that eventual vaccines are made available during the acute phase of the pandemic as a global good,” she told Reuters.
No comments from the WHO was available in the Reuters report.
Nearly $2 billion has been agreed to be paid by the United States government to secure their potential Covid-19 shot, said Pfizer and BioNtech on Wednesday. If the vaccines are successful, they would be used to vaccinate 50 million people and the price for each person would be about $40 dollars.
According to multiple previous reports, negotiations between the EU and several drug makers are ongoing in EU’s efforts to secure their potential vaccines against the coronavirus in advance. Reports also noted that the possible deals for vaccines with drug makers will be financed by the EU from a fund of about 2 billion euros ($2.3 billion), known popularly as the EU rainy-day fund and technically as the Emergency Support Instrument (ESI).
The EU also aims to secure supply of vaccines against Covid-19 by the end of the year if any are available by then. That time frame does not fit in the case COVAX, EU officials reportedly told Reuters.
The EU states can join COVAX is they want to according to the advice of the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU which is in charge of leading talks on behalf of the EU with drug makers. However the Commission has advised that the EU states should not aim to purchase vaccine by joining COVAX.
(Adapted from Reuters.com)