Dhe EU Commission decided for a reason to conclude a contract with the Mainz-based company Biontech for only 200 million units of the corona vaccine, with an option for a further 100 million doses. In the summer when contract negotiations began, no one could have predicted how effective the vaccine would be or how quickly it could be available. They didn’t want to rely on just one vaccine, the EU authority signed contracts with six companies.
The price could also have been an argument; Biontech’s vaccines are among the most expensive. Eastern European countries in particular are said to have urged the Commission to order fewer vaccines from Biontech and more from Astra-Zeneca. But now the approvals of the other vaccines took longer. In this country, the vaccine is scarce, so that the decision of the EU Commission at the time is increasingly criticized.
“End chaos quickly”
In this debate, Biontech boss Ugur Sahin spoke up. The process in Europe was not as quick and straightforward as in other countries because the individual countries had a say, the cancer researcher told the magazine “Der Spiegel”. The EU also relied on other manufacturers who could not deliver so quickly after all. “Apparently the impression prevailed: We’ll get enough, it won’t be that bad, and we have that under control,” said Sahin. “I was surprised.”
Biontech is looking for cooperation partners to expand production. “But it’s not as if specialized factories were standing around unused all over the world that could produce vaccine of the required quality overnight.” At the end of January, it should be clear whether and how much more the company can produce. The production facility in Marburg will be ready earlier than planned, perhaps as early as February. In the first half of the year, it could produce up to 250 million cans.
The joint order for the vaccine by the EU Commission should be a signal that Europeans are pulling together in dealing with the pandemic. A few weeks ago, however, the federal government secured 30 million cans from Biontech on the basis of national agreements.
The insufficient amount of vaccine in Germany gave the SPD reason for renewed criticism of Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU). The parliamentary manager of the SPD parliamentary group, Carsten Schneider, called on Spahn to end the “chaos surrounding the delivery and distribution of the vaccine” quickly. At a summit, Spahn had to clarify with all pharmaceutical companies producing in Germany “which production facilities exist and can be made usable at short notice,” said Schneider. So far, a good 166,000 people have been vaccinated against the corona virus nationwide.