Coronavirus: Austria wants vaccine for eight million people

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The pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca has guaranteed Austria six million doses. EU negotiates with other companies.

Vaccine for eight million inhabitants – that is the goal of the Austrian Ministry of Health, once a vaccine is available. However, it cannot go it alone, because the European Commission is negotiating preliminary contracts with manufacturers for all 27 EU countries. So far, AstraZeneca has signed a contract for 300 million doses plus another 100 million optional.

Europe concludes preliminary agreements together
According to the Ministry of Health, the EU member states, together with the European Commission, have committed themselves to signing preliminary contracts with the manufacturers of potential Covid vaccines, not separately but jointly. These preliminary contracts reserve supply quantities that will be divided within the EU according to population share. Austria’s share is two percent. This means that – if the AstraZeneca vaccine proves to be effective and well tolerated and receives approval from the European Medicines Agency – Austria will have around six million doses fixed.

Negotiations with a total of six companies
According to the Ministry of Health, one advantage of concluding contracts jointly is that the risk of concluding supply contracts with these manufacturers and sharing the research and production costs is borne by the EU as a whole and not by each individual state. In addition to the preliminary contract with AstraZeneca, the EU is negotiating with five other companies. This serves to obtain the most balanced portfolio of vaccines possible. The Commission is negotiating similar contracts with other manufacturers, including Sanofi and GSK, Johnson&Johnson, Curevac and Moderna.

Vaccination in Austria voluntary
Accroding to  the Ministry of Health all people living in Austria can be vaccinated voluntarily.  This means that sufficient vaccine doses must be available for around eight million people. This calculation is made regardless of whether one or two doses are needed to produce the vaccine. “In any case, it is our declared goal that every resident interested in the vaccination should receive a sufficient supply of vaccine. So we are assuming maximum possible consumption and not an estimated expectation,” the Ministry of Health emphasized.

No approval for serum yet
The vaccine, which has not yet been conclusively tested, could be acquired for all 27 EU countries if approved and then distributed according to population and needs. Donations to less affluent states are also conceivable. Commission head Ursula von der Leyen called the contract with AstraZeneca an important step towards the goal of securing a vaccine against the coronavirus for all Europeans. The Commission does not say anything about the costs. The deal is financed by a crisis financial pot, which is endowed with 2.7 billion euros from the EU budget.

— Hector Pascua, with reports from News Agencies, Picture: stockilyapp.com

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