June 12, 2020 / 12:44 PM / 24 days ago

EU urges joint efforts by bloc's states to buy COVID-19 vaccines

BRUSSELS, June 12 (Reuters) - The European Commission received a political mandate on Friday from EU governments to negotiate on their behalf advance purchases of promising coronavirus vaccines, the EU’s top health official said, urging states to set aside parallel initiatives.

EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides told a news conference there was “overwhelming” support from EU governments for a Commission plan to use a 2.4 billion euro ($2.7 billion) fund to buy coronavirus vaccines upfront.

Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands are already in talks with pharmaceutical companies to buy vaccines, a move that could weaken the EU’s joint approach.

Kyriakides said the two initiatives had the same goal, adding: “Both tracks should converge for the benefits of all 27. This is about working together and not in competition.” ($1 = 0.8849 euros) (Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Catherine Evans @fraguarascio)

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