The first doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed next week, an EU source told EURACTIV.com, amid growing tensions among EU member states over the distribution of the 100 million additional doses of Pfizer’s vaccine booked by the European Commission.
“First doses will be distributed next week (around the same day), on a pro-rata basis among all member states,” the source said.
The European Medicines Agency on 6 January approved the vaccine developed by Moderna, an American biotechnology company. A few hours later, the European Commission granted a conditional marketing authorisation for the Moderna jab, just like it did before with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
“This will ensure that 80 million vaccines will be available across Europe throughout the coming months, from now until September at increasing pace. The 80 million optional doses will also be distributed in 2021, on which discussions on delivery are ongoing,” the EU source said.
Moderna’s vaccine will add to the 300 million doses of the vaccine distributed by BioNTech-Pfizer, the first to have been authorised in the EU, on 21 December 2020.
Initially, the EU executive could not guarantee when the distribution of Moderna’s vaccine could begin. According to the contract, delivery could start anytime during the first quarter of 2021.
Germany is expected to receive two million doses in the first quarter of 2021 and 50 million by the end of the year, according to the German health minister Jens Spahn.
Critics suggested that there were some pending administrative issues between the EU and the US company regarding the logistics. The company reportedly asked for more guarantees from EU member states.
‘Wild bazaar’ over Pfizer’s 100 million doses
Meanwhile, tensions are mounting among EU member states over the 100 million additional doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine purchased by the European Commission.
“There is a wild bazaar over these doses,” an EU source said.
The European Commission wants the additional doses to be “shared fairly” among EU member states according to their population. But EU countries have the last say and every one of them is asking for more vaccines, especially in light of the delayed first deliveries.
Press reports suggested that Moderna’s vaccine is priced at €14.70 per shot, while the vaccine of Pfizer-BioNTech is estimated to cost €12.06.The cheapest is the vaccine manufactured by British multinational AstraZeneca, at €1.79 per dose.
The AstraZeneca jab has already been greenlighted in the UK, but EMA recently said an approval at EU level is unlikely in January.
(Edited by Frédéric Simon)