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The European Commission concluded today exploratory talks with the pharmaceutical company Valneva with a view to purchasing its potential COVID-19 vaccine.

The envisaged contract with Valneva would provide for the possibility for all European Union Member States to purchase together 30 million doses. Member States could further purchase up to 30 million additional doses.

The finalisation of these preliminary talks with Valneva come in addition to an already secured broad portfolio of vaccines to be produced in Europe, including the contracts already signed with AstraZeneca, Sanofi-GSK, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, BioNtech-Pfizer, CureVac and Moderna, as well as exploratory talks concluded with Novavax. Member States are able to donate vaccines to lower and middle-income countries or to re-direct it to other European countries. To date, the Commission has approved the use of the BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in the EU. 

Valneva is a European biotechnology company developing an inactivated virus vaccine. This is a traditional vaccine technology, used for 60-70 years, with established methods and a high level of safety. Most of the influenza vaccines and many childhood vaccines use this technology. This is currently the only inactivated vaccine candidate in clinical trials against COVID-19 in Europe.

The Commission, with the support of EU Member States, decided to support this vaccine based on a sound scientific assessment, the technology used, the company's experience in vaccine development and its production capacity to supply all Member States.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen commented: "The continuing COVID-19 pandemic in Europe and around the globe makes it more important than ever that all Member States have access to the broadest possible portfolio of vaccines to help protect people in Europe and beyond. Today's step toward reaching an agreement with Valneva further complements the EU's vaccines portfolio and demonstrates the Commission's commitment to find a lasting solution to the pandemic".

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, added: "With this eighth vaccine, we are adding to our already broad and diversified range of vaccines in our portfolio. By doing this, we can maximise our chances of making sure that all citizens can have access to safe and effective of vaccinations by the end of 2021. All Member States have now started their vaccination campaigns and will start receiving an increasing number of doses in order to cover all their needs during this year".

The Commission also recently proposed to EU Member States to purchase up to 300 million additional doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine. This would be on top of the 300 million doses already ordered and being used across the bloc. The additional doses will be delivered starting in the second quarter of 2021. 

In addition to the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, a second vaccine, produced by Moderna, was authorised on 6 January 2020; Luxembourg was the first EU Member State to receive this vaccine (1,200 doses arrived on Monday). Other vaccines are expected to be approved soon.