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EU Commission Buys Old-Fashioned Spanish COVID Vaccine by Bridget Ryder

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EU Commission Buys Old-Fashioned Spanish COVID Vaccine

The European Commission announced Tuesday, August 2nd that it had signed a deal to purchases millions of doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by HIPRA, a Spanish pharmaceutical company.

The joint procurement deal involves 14 countries. Under the agreement, they can purchase up to 250 million doses at rates negotiated by the commission, though it did not disclose the details of the purchase agreement.

Unlike most of the COVID-19 vaccines used in previous vaccination campaigns, this vaccine is not an mRNA vaccine, but a bivalent recombinant protein vaccine, a technology used in many long-standing, widely-given vaccines including the flu, hepatitis A, papilloma, and others. 

It targets multiple strains of COVD-19 using synthetic, or artificial, fragments of the virus’s spike protein, according to HIPRA.  The  vaccine is able to protect against all the variants of the virus currently circulating, Spain’s IrsiCaixa research institute said in July. 

An advantage the HIPRA vaccine has over mRNA vaccine is that it can be stored at higher temperatures—between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius—making it easier to distribute and store. HIPRA has completed the three required phases of clinical trials. In March, the European Medicines Agency started a rolling review of the vaccine, a review of the HIPRA’s finding from clinical trials. 

HIPRA started as a small pharmaceutical company in 1971, producing veterinary vaccines. In 202 it started working on a recombinant COVID-19 vaccine for humans. 

“With COVID-19 infections on the rise in Europe, we need to ensure maximum preparedness as we head into the autumn and winter months,” said Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides. “The HIPRA vaccine adds yet another option to complement our broad vaccine portfolio.”

Bridget Ryder is Spain-based writer. She has written on politics, environment, and culture for American and international publications. She holds degrees in Spanish and Catholic Studies.