The agreement with Pfizer, which is yet to be finalized in an official contract, would be the world’s biggest single deal for a Covid-19 vaccine to date. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the landmark purchase on Friday during a visit to a Pfizer manufacturing plant in Puurs, Belgium, saying the vaccines would be delivered through to 2023.
The deal was announced as pressure mounts on developed nations to stop purchasing more doses than their populations need to ensure there are enough for the rest of the world.
“Multiple leaders of the world, they would reach out to me, from presidents or prime ministers and kings, and general secretaries of organizations,” Bourla told the New York Times, explaining that such conversations were not uncommon.
Von der Leyen described the difficulties she faced as a leader as it became clear AstraZeneca was not going to deliver on its targets.
“I knew that the upscaling of the deliveries would have a slow start by nature in the beginning, and therefore, I also knew the first quarter was going be tough,” she said.
“I did not expect it to be as tough, because we did not include the possibility that AstraZeneca would reduce deliveries by 75%. That was a heavy setback.”
Von der Leyen said that the Pfizer deal would include an initial 900 million doses with the option for an additional 900 million, according to the New York Times report. The European Commission did not immediately confirm that detail to CNN.
A European Commission spokesperson would not comment on the details outlined in the New York Times report, instead referring CNN to von der Leyen’s remarks on Friday, “where she addressed the importance of a productive relationship between the European Commission and the various stakeholders involved in our vaccine strategy.”
“[The contract] will secure the doses necessary to give booster shots to increase our immunity against the virus. It will provide vaccines adapted to escape variants that no longer respond to the vaccines. And it should enable us to vaccinate, if necessary and safe, children and teenagers. And it will consolidate Europe’s leadership in mRNA technologies,” she said, referring to the technology used in vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.
The European Commission announced Monday it was suing AstraZeneca over an alleged breach of its vaccine supply contract, in a dramatic escalation of a months-long dispute over delivery delays that hampered the rollout of shots across much of the continent.
The 27 nations of the EU had ordered 300 million doses of the…