EU Adds Anti-Variant Clauses to New COVID Vaccine Supply Deals – Sources

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -
A scientist researcher, wearing protective gear, works to control the air quality in a lab at the Thermo Fisher plant, former Novasep, producing COVID-19 vaccines for AstraZeneca in Seneffe, Belgium, February 10, 2021. (REUTERS/Yves Herman)

The European Union is adding clauses to contracts with COVID-19 vaccine makers which would allow the bloc to gain access to possible upgraded shots that may offer better protection against variants of the virus, three EU sources said.

More contagious mutations are spreading fast in the EU and across the world, with the so-called British variant seen by experts as likely to become prevalent on the continent.

In new contracts with vaccine manufacturers, the EU is adding clauses that explicitly cover variants, three EU officials involved in talks with the companies told Reuters.

Vaccine makers are testing their shots against variants and are also working on tweaks that could make them more effective against virus mutations.

On Wednesday, the EU Commission will present a series of measures to boost the EU preparedness against variants, including new funds to help sequence the genome of the new coronavirus and spot variants.

Most EU countries have so far done little or no sequencing at all.