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UPDATE 2-EU seals 2nd COVID-19 vaccine deal as deadline for WHO scheme looms

Fri, 18th Sep 2020 10:51

* Sanofi, GSK to supply up to 300 mln shots

* Deal comes on deadline day to join WHO's COVAX scheme

* Many wealthy countries still to join
(Adds detail, background)

By Philip Blenkinsop and Matthias Blamont

BRUSSELS/PARIS, Sept 18 (Reuters) - The European Union has
agreed to buy a potential COVID-19 vaccine from Sanofi
and GSK in its second such deal to secure supplies, as a
deadline for joining the World Health Organization's (WHO)
vaccine purchase programme looms.

The deal will see the French and British drugmakers, which
have teamed up to manufacture a recombinant protein-based
vaccine they hope to get approved next year, provide the EU with
up to 300 million doses, according to a tweet from European
Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides.

Friday's agreement confirms an announcement made on July 31
by the two companies and follows an earlier deal between the EU
and AstraZeneca for up to 400 million shots.

In return for the right to the doses, the European
Commission will finance part of the upfront costs faced by
vaccine producers. The vaccine doses themselves will be bought
by EU countries.

The latest deal comes on deadline day for members of the WHO
to join its COVAX scheme, which aims to buy COVID-19 vaccines
and ensure immunisations are then fairly and efficiently
distributed.

So far, 92 lower-income nations are seeking assistance via
COVAX, part of the WHO's ACT Accelerator to boost development of
vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics to combat the pandemic.

Some 80 higher-income nations have expressed interest, but
many still have to join as they scramble to secure supplies
separately.

France will provide funding for the initiative but will not
source shots through it, an official at its health ministry said
on Thursday, after Paris decided to be part of a joint scheme
arranged through the EU.

There is currently no internationally-approved vaccine for
COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, which has
claimed more than 946,000 lives globally and derailed the world
economy.

For Sanofi and GSK, the deal follows a $2.1 billion
agreement with the United States in July for 100 million doses,
with an option for the U.S. government to purchase an additional
500 million, as well as a deal to deliver 60 million doses to
the United Kingdom.

FACTBOX- The race FACTBOX-U.S., UK spend billions to take lead
in securing coronavirus vaccines
for a coronavirus vaccine

(Reporting by Phil Blenkinsop and Matthias Blamont; Editing by
Mark Potter)

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