US, EU Outline Agenda for Global COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy

By Miranda Greenberg -

September 23, 2021

The governments of the US and the European Union (EU) have announced a new partnership to build on global cooperation to expand COVID-19 vaccines to low- and middle-income countries. The partnership includes a plan to increase COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing, supply and delivery, and involves the work of a recently launched Joint COVID-19 Manufacturing and Supply Chain Taskforce.

The newly announced US and the EU vaccines strategy centers on five pillars as outlined below.

Pillar I: A Joint EU/US Vaccine Sharing Commitment: The US and the EU will share doses globally with a priority on sharing through COVAX, a global initiative for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, to improve vaccination in low- and lower-middle income countries. The US is donating over 1.1 billion doses, and the EU will donate over 500 million doses. This is in addition to the doses the US and the EU have already financed through COVAX.

Pillar II: A Joint EU/US Commitment to Vaccine Readiness: The US and the EU will both support and coordinate with relevant organizations for vaccine delivery, cold chain, logistics, and immunization programs, including through COVAX.

Pillar III: A Joint EU/US Partnership on Global Vaccine and Therapeutics Supply: The EU and the US will use their newly launched Joint COVID-19 Manufacturing and Supply Chain Taskforce to support vaccine and therapeutic manufacturing and distribution and overcome supply-chain challenges. A detailed statement on the actions and plans of the taskforce may be found here.

Collaborative efforts include: monitoring global supply chains; assessing global demand against the supply of ingredients and production materials; and identifying and addressing in real time bottlenecks and other disruptive factors for global vaccine and therapeutics production, as well as coordinating potential solutions and initiatives to boost global production of vaccines, critical inputs, and ancillary supplies.

Pillar IV A Joint EU/US Proposal for Global Health Security: The US and the EU will support the establishment of a Financial Intermediary Fund by the end of 2021 and will support sustainable capitalization and global pandemic surveillance.

The EU and the US, through the European Health Emergency preparedness and Response Authority and the Department of Health and the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, will expand the development of new vaccines and make recommendations to enhance global capacity and delivery in real time.

Pillar V: A Joint EU/US/Partners Roadmap for Regional Vaccine Production. The EU and the US will coordinate investments in regional manufacturing capacity with low- and lower-middle income countries and other efforts to enhance capacity for medical countermeasures. The EU and the US will align to advance local vaccine manufacturing capacity in Africa and advance discussions on expanding the production of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.

At a virtual global COVID-⁠19 summit held this week (September 22, 2021), President Joe Biden also announced that the US is providing an additional $370 million to support administration of COVID-19 vaccines and global delivery. Additionally, President Biden said that the US will be providing more than $380 million to assist Gavi, a global vaccine alliance, to further facilitate vaccine distribution in regions with the greatest need.

Additional donations of COVID-19 vaccines

As part of the US global commitment, Pfizer and BioNTech announced plans to expand their agreement with the US government by providing an additional 500 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine at a not-for-profit price for donation to low- and lower-middle-income countries and the organizations that support them. This expanded agreement brings the total number of doses to be supplied from the companies to the US government for donation to these countries to one billion.

Consistent with the initial agreement, established in June (June 2021), the US government will allocate doses of Pfizer’s and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine to 92 low- and lower-middle-income countries as defined by Gavi’s COVAX Advance Market Commitment, a financing instrument aimed at supporting the procurement of vaccines, and the 55 member states of the African Union.

Deliveries of the initial 500 million doses began last month (August 2021), and the total one billion doses under the expanded agreement are expected to be delivered by the end of September 2022. The current plan is to produce these doses in Pfizer’s US facilities in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Andover, Massachusetts, Chesterfield, Missouri, and McPherson, Kansas.

Source: White House (EU partnership), White House (remarks by President Biden), European Commission, Pfizer, and BioNTech