The European Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton (R), poses during the joint press conference with the Minister of State, Economy and Digital Transition, Pedro Siza Vieira (L), Lisbon, 26 March 2021. EPA/MANUEL DE ALMEIDA

Government chooses 11 companies to accelerate vaccine production in Europe

The Portuguese government has chosen 11 Portuguese companies to potentially help produce vaccines against covid-19 in the European Union (EU), local newspaper Publico reported on Saturday.

The government has invited these companies to take part in an online event on 29 and 30 March, and will be  able to respond to the interest of other companies that need to increase their production capacity, Minister of Economy and Digital Transition, Pedro Siza Vieira, said, according to Publico.

This virtual meeting is part of a strategy to increase the production of vaccines against covid-19 in the EU, and is being led  European Commissioner Thierry Breton, who was in Lisbon this Friday, in the context of Portugal holding the rotating presidency of the Council the EU. 

“We have identified 52 factories in the European Union capable of supplying everything that is needed,” Breton said. 

“We now understand the capacity of these factories much better, so we are more certain about the quantity of vaccines that will be delivered in the second quarter: more than 360 million doses,” he added.

The lion’s share will be from Pfizer-BioNtech (200 million doses), but the accounts also include 70 million from AstraZeneca and 10 million from Germany’s CureVac, which is expected to be approved soon by the European Medicines Agency.

Breton pointed out that it was necessary to prepare for the following autumn, when it may be necessary to produce a booster dose of vaccines against covid-19, due to many variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus appearing.

The European Commission wants to involve a large number of companies to increase vaccine production capacity. It has a new instrument, the HERA Incubator, which “aims to bring together researchers, biotechnology companies, manufacturers, regulators and public authorities to monitor variants, exchange data and cooperate in adapting vaccines”, according to a press release by the Commission.