BRUSSELS/BARCELONA (Reuters) – The European Commission said on Tuesday it had signed a joint procurement contract with Spanish pharmaceutical firm HIPRA for the supply of its protein COVID-19 vaccine, which will be available if approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
The European Union’s executive said in a statement that 14 countries are participating in the agreement, under which they can purchase up to 250 million doses.
HIPRA hopes its vaccine, which is under a rolling review by the EMA, will be approved and ready to be administered by the autumn, the Spanish company said in a statement, calling the EU’s announcement a “sign of confidence” in its shot.
European Commissioner for Health Stella Kyriakides said in the EU statement that with COVID-19 infections on the rise in Europe, “we need to ensure maximum preparedness as we head into the autumn and winter months”.
“The HIPRA vaccine adds yet another option to complement our broad vaccine portfolio for our member states and citizens,” she said, adding that an increase in vaccination and boosting would be essential over the coming months.
The HIPRA bivalent recombinant protein vaccine is being developed as a booster dose in previously immunised persons 16 years and older. It uses a recombinant protein like that of U.S. based drugmaker Novavax.
A HIPRA top executive told Reuters in December it was confident there would be EU demand for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine as it is designed to protect against new variants, can be moved easily in low temperatures and be produced in mass quantities.
HIPRA, which specialised in veterinary vaccines for some 50 years and operates in more than 100 countries, had already sealed a purchase deal for 50 million doses with Vietnam, where it conducted tests.
(Reporting by John Chalmers and Joan Faus, editing by Marine Strauss and Bernadette Baum)
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