Germany is set to forge a new alliance with three European Union countries to secure access to coronavirus vaccines, once they are developed, German newspaper Handelsblatt reported Thursday.
Health Minister Jens Spahn wrote to the European Commission along with his counterparts from France, Italy and the Netherlands to announce that they have joined to "achieve the fastest and best possible outcome in negotiations with key players in the pharmaceutical industry."
The four EU countries have identified the development of a vaccine as "one of the most urgent issues that the European Union has to address at present."
Germany is eager to ensure the EU will have vaccine access over fears that China or the United States may attempt to control purchases of any potential vaccines.
The US has already secured almost a third of the first 1 billion doses planned for pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca experimental vaccine by pledging $1.2 billion (€1.07 billion). AstraZeneca is one of several companies that Germany is now in talks with, according to Handelsblatt.
The four EU countries may be in talks with other non-EU members on working together for vaccine procurement, including Singapore, the UK and Japan.
The EU is also preparing to use a €2.4 billion ($2.7 billion) fund to make advance purchases of vaccines, Reuters news agency reported. The use of the emergency fund is yet to be officially announced.
EU pledges €300 million to global vaccine summit
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson planned to host a summit on vaccine development with international leaders later on Thursday. He is expected to attempt to raise at least $7.4 billion primarily to help the world's poorest nations in vaccine procurement.
Johnson called the so-called Vaccine Alliance Gavi summit a "new era of global health cooperation."
Ahead of the summit, the European Union announced they will pledge €300 million to Gavi.
One of the key aims is to provide vaccines for at least 300 million children at a vastly reduced cost.
Around 50 world leaders are expected to attend the virtual summit, as well as individual philanthropists like Microsoft founder and billionaire Bill Gates. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin declined an invitation to attend, although Russia has the third-highest number of cases in the world.
ed/aw (dpa, Reuters)