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EU strikes deal with Moderna to speed German vaccine supply


The European Union brokered a deal to expedite deliveries of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine to countries like Germany that are experiencing temporary shortages as they try to accelerate inoculation and ward off the omicron variant.

Moderna agreed to bring forward delivery of 10 million doses to Germany in December, enough for 20 million boosters, the European Commission said Thursday. The company will also provide 25 million extra shots to Germany in the first quarter of 2022.

Germany has started rationing Covid vaccines through the rest of the year as it seeks to maintain momentum in its ramped-up booster campaign going despite an unexpected shortage of BioNTech vaccines.

The country's new health minister, Karl Lauterbach, said he wants most of the 25 million shots for the first quarter already in January. He's also seeking to purchase unused doses from countries including Portugal, Romania, Poland and Bulgaria, and is pursuing fresh supplies directly from manufacturers.

"I hope that I can bring you some news of success on this in coming days or weeks," he said Thursday at a news conference in Berlin.

Germany has already administered over 20 million Covid shots since it kicked off a booster campaign in mid-November, according to data from the RKI public-health institute.

The goal through the end of the year is 30 million, and the country is also seeking to ramp up a program to inoculate children against Covid.

Lauterbach said he had spoken to his counterpart in the U.K., Sajid Javid, earlier Thursday and the latest data on the rapid spread of the omicron strain there were "very worrying."

Getting third Covid shots administered as quickly as possible is key for ending the current wave of the pandemic and heading off the risk posed by the new omicron strain, he added.

"Our strategy is that we will try to keep the omicron variant under control as far as possible via a very fast, offensive booster campaign," Lauterbach said. "This is to prevent the health system becoming overloaded and possibly even wider society."

Germany is also hoping get more BioNTech vaccine from the EU in the first quarter, Lauterbach said. He thanked the German parliament's budget committee and Finance Minister Christian Lindner for making an extra 2.2 billion euros ($2.5 billion) available for vaccine procurement.

"I want there to be clearly more vaccine available than is being called for at any given time, so that we can cover our needs without delay," he told reporters.

Germany's overall vaccination campaign has been less successful than in many of its fellow EU members, with just 70% of the population already receiving at least two doses as of Wednesday. That compares with almost 80% in France and nearly 75% in Italy, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

EU leaders are meeting in Brussels on Thursday, where they're discussing how to accelerate booster shots across the continent.

Published : December 17, 2021

By : Bloomberg