BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said on Friday the European Union was in talks with more companies to secure potential COVID-19 vaccines, as she warned of the “worrying” spike in infections in Europe.
“The commission has already concluded two advance purchase agreements and it is negotiating five more. And we are in discussions with four more companies,” she told a news conference after a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels.
To date the Commission has announced supply deals for the potential vaccines being developed by AstraZeneca and by a partnership between Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline.
It has also said publicly that it was in advanced talks to secure shots being developed by Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, CureVac and a partnership between Pfizer and BioNTech.
The EU is in talks with Novavax for a seventh vaccine, a senior EU source told Reuters last week.
A Commission spokesman was not immediately available to clarify von der Leyen’s remark about talks with other four companies.
Von der Leyen said progress on vaccines was key for a long-term solution to the current crisis.
She added that EU governments should continue working together to tackle the emergency as infections were again on the raise in the continent.
“The epidemiological situation is worrying. So we must stay very focused to avoid a return to the dire situation we experienced last spring,” she said.
(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio; Editing by Alison Williams and Frances Kerry)