The European Commission has approved a deal that allows EU member states to buy up to 200 million doses of Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine, once the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has deemed it safe and effective for use.

In a statement on Wednesday, the EU’s executive branch announced the agreement with the US biotech firm. Under the new deal, member states will be able to purchase 100 million Novavax vaccine doses, with the option to purchase a further 100 million from 2021 to 2023.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen hailed the deal as further strengthening the bloc’s “broad vaccine portfolio.”

As variants are spreading, we need to stay vigilant. We approved a new contract with @Novavax for 200 million doses of its vaccine, which is already being tested successfully against variants. With our broad vaccine portfolio we protect Europeans and help vaccinate the world.

“As new coronavirus variants are spreading in Europe and around the world, this new contract with a company that is already testing its vaccine successfully against these variants is an additional safeguard for the protection of our population,” she said in a statement.

EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides echoed von der Leyen’s comments, emphasizing that the bloc would “continue working tirelessly to ensure that our vaccines continue to reach citizens in Europe and around the world, to end the pandemic as quickly as possible.”

Despite the deal, the Novavax Covid-19 jab has not yet been given the green light by the EMA for use across the bloc.

The announcement of the agreement comes after the EU reached its target of vaccinating at least 70% of its population with one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of July. The bloc estimates that it is also on course to fully vaccinate the same percentage of its member citizens by the end of summer.

Novavax published data in mid-June from its phase-three trials, conducted in the US and Mexico, showing that the vaccine is 90.4% effective against the coronavirus. The study, with almost 30,000 volunteer participants, found that the shot was 93% effective against the Alpha and Beta variants of “interest” and “concern.”

Third-stage clinical trials conducted in the UK in January found that the vaccine’s efficacy was slightly lower at 89.3%, but still boasted a high protection rate.

COVAX, an international scheme that aims to alleviate vaccine inequity by helping facilitate the distribution of doses to lower-income nations, signed a deal with Novavax in May for 350 million shots. 

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