Negotiations between Europe and Moderna could be sped up. The head of the American biotechnology company warned Europeans on Tuesday, November 17, that the extension of negotiations to buy doses of its vaccine against Covid-19 ran the risk of slowing down deliveries. Other countries have priority because they have signed for months.
“We have discussions, but we don’t have a contract“Stéphane Bancel told AFP from Cambridge, Massachusetts, where the 48-year-old Frenchman, former bioMérieux laboratory, has run Moderna since 2011, a small holding company one of the most promising vaccines of the pandemic.
The company, founded in 2010, announced on Monday that its Covid-19 vaccine project had shown high efficiency in clinical trials, by almost 95%, comparable to what was announced last week by the US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, allied with the German company BioNTech. These two vaccines should ask the US, European and other authorities marketing authorizations In the next weeks.
In fact, “advanced discussions” were announced with the European Commission on Monday, August 24 to the purchase of 80 million doses of the vaccinebut no firm commitment has been signed since then. Meanwhile, Moderna has signed with Canada, Japan, Israel, Qatar, UK, not counting the promised 100 million doses early August in the United States.
“The longer you wait, the more it will change in time”
“It is clear that having been left behind, will not limit the total amount, it will slow down delivery, “says Stéphane Bancel. For all countries outside the United States, production will take place in Switzerland, in the factories of the Lonza group, and bottled in Madrid, in the Rovi group.
If the European Medicines Agency ever authorized the vaccine before the end of the year, but no contract had yet been signed. “early installment allocations would not include Europe. Then I would go to Switzerland, I would go a little to Japan, Israel, Canada, then the countries that ordered it. But those who have not ordered, I will not send products“assured the leader of Moderna.
“The longer you wait, the more it will move in timeStéphane Bancel insists. According to him, the discussions do not lock in the price, but he refuses to say more publicly. The European Commission, which has also signed with Pfizer and other manufacturers, insisted Tuesday on the complexity of the negotiations. “Are we going to make deals because suddenly there is good news about the status of a vaccine? It is not,” said spokesman Stefan de Keersmaecker.
Moderna salutes American anticipation
Stéphane Bancel also compares European procrastination to American anticipation. Since Monday, March 2, he and the heads of the main laboratories have been in the White House around Donald Trump. United States granted five hundred million dollars in Moderna starting in April, to fund clinical trials.
“We started discussing with various European countries in May. no help paying for any clinical trials. It was all taken over by the US government and luckily they did, otherwise we couldn’t have developed the vaccine at these speeds, as you know we are. a company that has never made a profit of one euroand the clinical study cost a billion dollars, “he continues.
As a result, the first Americans will no doubt be vaccinated before the new year : “We already have several million reserved doses” in the United States, confirms Stéphane Bancel. Ten million doses should be available by the end of November., and “we will have 20 million doses by the end of the year.”
These 20 million doses will be exclusively for the United States. Moderna has been preparing the supply chain with the government for months to be ready as soon as the US Drug Administration (FDA) approves the vaccine. a decision expected in december.