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Coronavirus: Commission approves new contract for a potential COVID-19 vaccine with Novavax

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Today (4 August), the European Commission has approved its seventh Advanced Purchase Agreement (APA) with a pharmaceutical company to ensure access to a potential vaccine against COVID-19 in Q4 of 2021 and in 2022.

Under this contract, member states will be able to purchase up to 100 million doses of the Novavax vaccine, with an option for 100 million additional doses over the course of 2021, 2022, and 2023, once reviewed and approved by EMA as safe and effective. Member states will also be able to donate vaccines to lower and middle-income countries or to re-direct them to other European countries.

Today's contract complements  an already broad portfolio of vaccines to be produced in Europe, including the contracts with AstraZeneca, Sanofi-GSK, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, BioNtech-Pfizer, CureVac, Moderna and the concluded exploratory talks with Valneva. It represents another key step towards ensuring that Europe is well prepared to face the COVID-19 pandemic.

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “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. It further strengthens our broad vaccine portfolio, to the benefit of Europeans and our partners worldwide.”

Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said: “Vaccinations in the EU are advancing and we are closer to our target of 70% fully vaccinated citizens by the end of summer. Our new agreement with Novavax expands our vaccine portfolio to include one more protein-based vaccine, a platform showing promise in clinical trials. We will 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.”

Novavax is a biotechnology company developing next-generation vaccines for serious infectious diseases. Their COVID-19 vaccine is already under rolling review by EMA in view of a potential market authorisation.

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The Commission has taken a decision to support this vaccine based on a sound scientific assessment, the technology used, the company's experience in vaccine development and its production capacity to supply the whole of the EU.

Background

The European Commission presented on 17 June a European strategy to accelerate the development, manufacturing and deployment of effective and safe vaccines against COVID-19. In return for the right to buy a specified number of vaccine doses in a given timeframe, the Commission finances part of the upfront costs faced by vaccines producers in the form of Advance Purchase Agreements.

In view of the current and new escape SARS-CoV-2 variants, the Commission and the Member States are negotiating with companies already in the EU vaccine portfolio new agreements that would allow to purchase rapidly adapted vaccines in sufficient quantities to reinforce and prolong immunity.

In order to purchase the new vaccines, member states are allowed to use the REACT-EU package, one of the largest programmes under the new instrument Next Generation EU that continues and extends the crisis response and crisis repair measures.

More information

EU Vaccines Strategy

Safe COVID-19 vaccines for Europeans

EU Coronavirus Response

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Commission approves €1.8 million Latvian scheme to support cattle farmers affected by the coronavirus outbreak

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The European Commission has approved a €1.8 million Latvian scheme to support farmers active in the cattle-breeding sector affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State Aid Temporary Framework. Under the scheme, the aid will take the form of direct grants. The measure aims at mitigating the liquidity shortages that the beneficiaries are facing and at addressing part of the losses they incurred due to the coronavirus outbreak and the restrictive measures that the Latvian government had to implement to limit the spread of the virus. The Commission found that the scheme is in line with the conditions of the Temporary Framework.

In particular, the aid (i) will not exceed €225,000 per beneficiary; and (ii) will be granted no later than 31 December 2021. The Commission concluded that the measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the scheme under EU state aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.64541 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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Commission approves €500,000 Portuguese scheme to further support the passenger transport sector in Azores in the context of the coronavirus outbreak

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The European Commission has approved a €500,000 Portuguese scheme to further support the passenger transport sector in the Region of the Azores in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The measure was approved under the State Aid Temporary Framework. It follows another Portuguese scheme to support the passenger transport sector in Azores that the Commission approved on 4 June 2021 (SA.63010). Under the new scheme, the aid will take the form of direct grants. The measure will be open to collective passenger transport companies of all sizes active in the Azores. The purpose of the measure is to mitigate the sudden liquidity shortages that these companies are facing and to address losses incurred over 2021 due to the coronavirus outbreak and the restrictive measures that the government had to implement to limit the spread of the virus.

The Commission found that the Portuguese scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the aid (i) will not exceed €1.8 million per company; and (ii) will be granted no later than 31 December 2021. The Commission concluded that the measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions of the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU state aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.64599 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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Commission authorizes French aid scheme of €3 billion to support, through loans and equity investments, companies affected by the coronavirus pandemic

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The European Commission has cleared, under EU state aid rules, France's plans to set up a € 3 billion fund that will invest through debt instruments and equity and hybrid instruments in companies affected by the pandemic. The measure was authorized under the Temporary State Aid Framework. The scheme will be implemented through a fund, titled 'Transition Fund for Businesses Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic', with a budget of € 3bn.

Under this scheme, support will take the form of (i) subordinated or participating loans; and (ii) recapitalization measures, in particular hybrid capital instruments and non-voting preferred shares. The measure is open to companies established in France and present in all sectors (except the financial sector), which were viable before the coronavirus pandemic and which have demonstrated the long-term viability of their economic model. Between 50 and 100 companies are expected to benefit from this scheme. The Commission considered that the measures complied with the conditions set out in the temporary framework.

The Commission concluded that the measure was necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of France, in accordance with Article 107 (3) (b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the temporary supervision. On this basis, the Commission authorized these schemes under EU state aid rules.

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Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager (pictured), competition policy, said: “This €3bn recapitalization scheme will allow France to support companies affected by the coronavirus pandemic by facilitating their access funding in these difficult times. We continue to work closely with member states to find practical solutions to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic while respecting EU regulations.”

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