Netherlands, 3 EU countries sign Covid-19 vaccine deal with AstraZeneca; ICU cases rise
A four-country alliance which teamed up to pre-purchase large quantities of prospective vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 announced its first major deal on Saturday. The Netherlands, France, Germany and Italy pooled their purchasing power to acquire between 300 and 400 million units of a vaccine being developed by pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.
The first vaccines could become available in the Netherlands before the end of the year, if the vaccine trials are successful. It is currently being tested on ten thousand people, with the trial size expanding to 30 thousand people by the end of the month. "The risk of failure is present until the end in each of the development phases," the government stated.
"It is very important that we can take this step today. A vaccine is crucial in the fight against the virus," said Hugo de Jonge, the minister in charge of the Dutch government's coronavirus response. "Until the vaccine is available, the virus will be among us and it will emerge. A vaccine is therefore being worked on with great effort. We want to work together and bet on several horses at the same time, because you don't know in advance who will win the race.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the government said the vaccines would be purchased at cost.
All other European Union member states are allowed to participate in the deal, the Dutch government reiterated in a statement. If the vaccine is approved, it will be distributed to each country participating in the deal in proportion with their population size. The European Commission was critical of the four-country alliance, and instead said last week that it wanted to be in charge of negotiating deals on behalf of all member states.
Zojuist tekenden Nederland🇳🇱, Duitsland🇩🇪, Frankrijk🇫🇷 en ItaIië🇮🇹 een contract met @AstraZeneca over de levering van een mogelijk coronavaccin. Belangrijke stap. Pas als er een vaccin is, zijn we echt beschermd. In Nederland, in Europa🇪🇺 en daarbuiten. 👉 https://t.co/kLkJFyur06 pic.twitter.com/4cYhNeVUco— Hugo de Jonge (@hugodejonge) June 13, 2020
There were 77 people being treated for Covid-19 in intensive care on Saturday, an increase of four. It was still the lowest number of patients in ICU for the coronavirus disease since March 13.
There was also an increase of Covid-19 patients outside of the ICU, with hospitals treating 10 more, for 289 in total.
"We have noticed a slight increase in COVID patients in the ICU and in the clinic. In view of the steady decline in the number of COVID patients in the ICU, and the sharp decline in the clinic in the past week, the development in the past 24 hours is no cause for concern," said Ernst Kuipers, the head of the acute care providers network in the Netherlands.
To date, 2,907 people have been treated in intensive care for Covid-19, of which 842 have died. Another 1,577 recovered and were discharged.