The vaccine, which is still undergoing trials, is being developed at Oxford University in England. The researchers are currently working towards a large scale clinical trial which involves testing the vaccine on 10,000 people.
AstraZeneca has bought the licence to produce the drug and the British government has already ordered 30 million doses. Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s initiative to develop a vaccine has also invested $1.2bn in the project.
De Jonge said that the risks attached to making such an investment, before the vaccine had been proved to work, were not outweighed by the social importance and that the four countries, united as the Inclusive Vaccines Alliance, are still in talks with other developers.
‘Today’s move is extremely important… until we have a vaccine, the virus can always flare up again,’ he said. ‘We are therefore betting on more than one horse, because you don’t know in advance which one will win.’
The four countries said earlier this month they had agreed to jointly carry out negotiations with drug developers and manufacturers to explore promising potential vaccines, and that other countries were welcome to join the alliance.
‘This will allow everyone in Europe – and especially those who are most vulnerable – to benefit from a vaccine,’ the Dutch government statement said at the time.
AstraZeneca said in a statement on Saturday that deliveries would start at the end of 2020. ‘The company is seeking to expand manufacturing capacity further and is open to collaborating with other companies in order to meet its commitment to support access to the vaccine at no profit during the pandemic,’ the drugs manufacturer said.