The European Commission said on Thursday it had secured additional supplies of the antiviral drug remdesivir, approved to treat COVID-19, for up to 500,000 patients.
The doses will be bought through a joint contract for the 27 EU countries, plus Norway, Iceland, Britain, along with six other countries that are candidates or potential candidates for accession to the bloc.
The countries can now place their orders to obtain the medicine.
In July, the European Commission signed a contract with United States pharmaceutical giant Gilead for 30,000 doses of remdesivir on behalf of EU member states and Britain.
Czech hospitals are among those running out of the drug, according to media reports.
Remdesivir is the first drug to receive EU approval to treat severe cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
The effectiveness of the drug is contested. It was initially developed to treat Ebola.
The commission has also signed a contract with United States-based pharmacy multinational Johnson & Johnson for 200 million vaccine doses, should its vaccine be proved safe and effective.
The commission has already signed a contract with AstraZeneca and Sanofi-GSK.
It is negotiating similar agreements with other vaccine developers including Curevac, Moderna, and BioNTech.
Johnson & Johnson’s is one of about a dozen vaccines that are currently in the third phase of clinical trials worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation.
Russia caused controversy in August when it announced that its “Sputnik V” coronavirus vaccine would be rolled out – before phase-3 testing had begun.
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Obike Ukoh