SOFIA/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has revealed that a big new vaccine supply contract that the European Union is seeking from Pfizer-BioNTech from 2022 will be at a significantly increased price.
The bloc is seeking the new supply deal with the two companies for up to 1.8 billion vaccines, of which is 900 million optional, to be delivered in 2022 and 2023, Reuters reported on Friday.
Borissov, speaking on Sunday, said the EU was negotiating the new contract at a price of 19.5 euros ($23.22) per dose.
“The prices are going up quickly,” Borissov said during a trip to a village in southern Bulgaria.
“Pfizer’s (price) was 12 euros, then increased to 15.5 euros. Now for 2022 and 2023 the European Union contracts are being signed for 900 million vaccines, but already at a price of 19.5 euros,” he said.
That is a significant increase from 15.5 euros per dose the EU has paid for the 600 million Pfizer shots it has so far contracted, according to an EU internal document and officials.
An EU official involved in talks with vaccine makers confirmed the price cited by Borissov for the new contract but said negotiations had not been wrapped up yet.
The new contract would cover variants, meaning that the companies would offer enhanced shots if mutations of the coronavirus became prevalent, a second EU official said.
Borissov said: “Roughly this will cost 18 billion euros, at least … That means that in the new budgets financial experts should earmark bigger, much bigger buffers for vaccines.”
Borissov’s government was among EU states who initially declined to buy their full share of Pfizer shots secured by the EU because they considered the vaccine too expensive, several EU officials have said.
The Balkan country of 7 million people, which has initially bet mainly on the AstraZeneca vaccine, has suffered from delays and decreased deliveries of its vaccines to the EU.
At present, Sofia has vaccinated some 7.7% of its population with a first dose, the slowest rate in the EU.
Borissov said his centre-right government has secured the deliveries of some 2.7 million Pfizer doses until the middle of June that should speed up rollout and ensure herd immunity for Bulgarians.
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(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova in Sofia and Francesco Guarascio in Brussels; Editing by Jane Merriman)