EU eyes Covid-19 vaccines at less than US$40, shuns WHO-led alliance

BRUSSELS: The European Union is not interested in buying potential Covid-19 vaccines through an initiative co-led by the World Health Organization as it deems it slow and high-cost, two EU sources told Reuters, noting the bloc was in talks with drugmakers for shots cheaper than US$40.

The position shows the EU has only partly embraced a global approach in the race for Covid-19 vaccines as, while it is a top supporter of initiatives for worldwide equitable access, it prefers prioritising supplies for the EU population.

It could also deal a blow to the WHO-led Covax initiative to secure vaccines for all.

“Using Covax would lead to higher prices and later supplies,” one of the two officials said.

The Covax mechanism meant to buy vaccines in advance is targeting a US$40 price for Covid vaccines for wealthy countries, the official said, adding the EU could buy at cheaper prices with its own scheme for upfront purchases.

A spokeswoman for Gavi, a public-private vaccine alliance which also co-leads the Covax initiative, declined to comment on the US$40 target, saying it was impossible at this stage to predict the exact price of future doses.