The European Union (EU) and pharmaceutical companies BioNTech and Pfizer have reached an agreement to review the terms of their Covid-19 vaccine delivery contracts, following a significant drop in demand for jabs.
The EU Commission announced the deal in a statement on Friday, saying it would allow member states to buy fewer vaccine doses than originally contracted within a four-year time frame.
The update comes as the EU faces a surplus of Covid-19 vaccines, with many member states having already administered more doses than their populations need.
The deal amends the third joint purchase agreement (JPA) between the EU and BioNTech/Pfizer, which was signed in 2021. The JPA originally called for the EU to buy 900 million Covid-19 vaccine doses, with an option for another 900 million.
Under the original contract, 450 million jabs were scheduled to be delivered in 2021 and 2022, while another 450 million in 2023.
The EU Commission said the new deal would allow member states to “better address evolving needs for Covid-19 vaccines”.
Stefan de Keersmaecker, the European Commission’s spokesperson for health affairs, said the contract had to be modified because there was a “mismatch between supply and demand from certain member countries”.
He said he was “not in a position” to tell how many vaccines the EU would renounce as the EU member states decide to review their orders.
The deal is the latest in a series of measures taken by the EU to address the surplus of Covid-19 vaccines. In April, the EU announced it would donate 100 million doses to low- and middle-income countries.
The EU has also been working to increase the uptake of Covid-19 vaccines in its member states. In March, the EU Commission launched a campaign to encourage people to get vaccinated.
The campaign, which is called “Get Vaccinated”, features a series of videos and posters that highlight the importance of vaccination.
The EU Commission has said that it is committed to ensuring that everyone in the EU has access to safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines.