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EXCLUSIVE-EU eyes COVID vaccine deal with Moderna at less than $25 per dose, says source

(Recasts with source on talks, quotes, context)

BRUSSELS, Nov 16 (Reuters) - The European Commission wants to reach a deal with Moderna Inc for the supply of millions of doses of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate for a price below $25 per dose, an EU official involved in the talks said.

Moderna said on Monday its experimental vaccine was 94.5% effective in preventing COVID-19, based on interim data from a late-stage clinical trial, becoming the second developer to report results that far exceeded expectations, after Pfizer and BioNTech said last week their vaccine candidate was more than 90% effective.

The EU has been in talks with Moderna for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine at least since July, an internal EU document seen by Reuters shows. Reuters first reported the negotiations in July. A deal might be reached in the coming days, the senior official involved in the talks said, adding that discussions were mostly focusing on the legal wording of the contract, but faced no major hurdles on issues such as price or liability.

The price being negotiated was below $25 per dose, said the official, who declined to be more specific and asked for anonymity as the talks were confidential.

Moderna was not immediately available to comment.

The United States paid Moderna $15 per dose to secure 100 million vaccines in a $1.5 billion deal in August. That was on top of $1 billion in funding for Moderna’s vaccine, effectively bringing the combined price to $25, according to the publicly released terms of the deal.

Washington has an option to buy another 400 million doses for an undisclosed price.

Moderna’s vaccine is administered with a two-shot course.

NEW DEALS ‘COMING SOON’

EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said on Twitter that Moderna’s results were “encouraging” and that new EU deals with vaccine makers were to “come soon”.

“Negotiations with the company are ongoing. We have not yet concluded or signed a contract,” Kyriakides told EU lawmakers in a regular hearing on Monday.

A spokesman for the Commission did not respond to questions on price and the timing of a possible deal with Moderna.

On Aug. 24 the Commission, which conducts talks with vaccine makers on behalf of EU states, said preliminary talks with Moderna had been concluded with the aim of signing a contract for the supply of 80 million doses of its vaccine, with the option of buying another 80 million.

Last week, the Commission reached a deal with Pfizer and BioNTech on the supply of their potential COVID-19 vaccine hours after the companies announced their positive results, EU officials said, adding that the timing was a coincidence.

The formal signing of that contract is expected later this week.

An official told Reuters the EU had agreed to pay less than $19.50 per shot to Pfizer and BioNTech, adding that partly reflected the financial support given by the EU and Germany for the drug’s development.

The EU has also struck supply deals with AstraZeneca , Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi for their experimental COVID-19 vaccines.

It announced on Monday a new deal with German biotech firm CureVac . (Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Louise Heavens and Alex Richardson)

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