US drugs firm Moderna today announced that it had concluded initial talks with the European Union to supply 80m doses of its potential coronavirus vaccine.
Under the potential purchase agreement, the EU will have the option to acquire an additional 80m doses of the treatment, for a total of up to 160m doses.
A phase three trial of the vaccine is currently underway, into which Moderna hopes to have enrolled 30,000 participants by September.
By 2021, the company is aiming to produce at least 500m doses of the treatment a year, but said it hopes to make double that number.
Moderna has already inked a deal with the US to supply 100m doses of the potential Covid-19 vaccine for around $1.5bn.
The agreement is the fifth such deal that the EU has signed with major global drugs firms to develop a vaccine for the new disease.
It has already done deals with Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson, Curevac and UK giant Astrazeneca.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said: “After intense negotiations, the Commission has now concluded talks with a fifth pharmaceutical company, to enable rapid access to a vaccine against coronavirus for Europeans.
“We invest in companies using diverse technologies, to increase our chances to have vaccines that are safe and effective. We continue talks with other companies – as we want to make sure that vaccines are rapidly available on the market.”
In a statement, the Commission said that the envisaged contract with Moderna would provide for the possibility for all EU member states to purchase the vaccine, as well as to donate to lower and middle income countries or re-direct to European countries.
A vaccine is widely considered to be the best hope of halting the spread of the coronavirus, which has thus far killed over 800,000 people around the world.
In total, there are over 180 programmes attempting to develop a vaccine for the virus underway globally.
Earlier today it was announced that Italy had begun stage three trials of a potential vaccine developed by pharma firm Reithera.