BRUSSELS, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Brussels is close to wrapping
up preliminary talks with U.S. vaccine maker Novavax
for its potential COVID-19 shot, an EU source involved in the
negotiations said, as the bloc ramps up its push in the global
race to secure supplies.
The move is meant to expand to seven the portfolio of
vaccines the 27-country bloc, with a population of 450 million,
wants to secure. It would bring doses potentially available to
EU countries to more than 2 billion.
"We are at an advanced stage in talks with Novavax," the EU
senior official said, who declined to be identified as
negotiations are confidential.
The number of doses the EU could secure is still under
discussion, the official said, noting that it was likely to be
at least 100 million.
A spokesman for the EU executive commission, which is
co-leading the talks with vaccine makers, declined to comment.
Novavax had no immediate comment.
The EU has already secured 400 million doses of the
potential vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and
Oxford University, and 300 million doses of the potential shot
being trialled by Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline.
It is also in talks with Johnson & Johnson, Moderna
, CureVac and a partnership of Pfizer
and BionTech for nearly 1.3 billion additional doses of
their vaccine candidates.
The seventh vaccine would add to the EU portfolio a second
protein-based jab, the same technology used by Sanofi and GSK.
The EU is also securing shots based on messenger RNA (mRNA) and
"We want to split the risks," the official said, as it is
not certain which, if any, of the vaccines under development
will prove effective and safe.
If it strikes seven deals, the EU would be ahead of Britain
and the United States, which each have concluded six supply
contracts so far.
Novavax has already reached supply deals with the United
States, Britain, Japan and Canada. It is also one of the
potential vaccines covered by the WHO-led procurement facility
Crucial for the deals to be finalised is the topping up of
an EU emergency fund, which has so far made available 2 billion
euros ($2.3 billion) for vaccine purchases. At least another 750
million euros is needed to cover the seven deals, the EU
($1 = 0.8551 euros)
(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Josephine Mason
and Jan Harvey)