Drug manufacturers Pfizer and BioNTech have reached an agreement with the European Commission (EC) to amend their existing contract to deliver Covid-19 vaccines to the European Union (EU).

The amendment has now cut the number of vaccines the EU must buy and pushed the delivery deadline to 2026.

The change in the original deal is the result of months of talks and amid pressure on Brussels from EU governments due to a global glut of Covid-19 vaccine doses and low demand for boosters. Additionally, some European governments destroyed the doses, reported Reuters.

The latest agreement has amended the reduction in the number of doses purchased by Member States of the EU under the contract.

It also has extended the length of time in which EU states will take delivery of the vaccines to up to 4 years from now.

The pharma companies have also amended the possibility of access to additional doses until the end of the contract to meet needs, cases rise, and the epidemiological situation worsens in the contract.

Furthermore, the amended contract specifies that the EU will continue to have access to vaccines for new variants when they are cleared by the health regulators.

EU Health and Food Safety commissioner Stella Kyriakides said: “I warmly welcome the agreement reached with and on behalf of our Member States with BioNTech-Pfizer to adapt the Covid-19 vaccine supply in order to match evolving needs.

“We have brought the pandemic under control largely through our vaccines and vaccinations. And while Covid-19 is no longer a global health emergency, it remains a threat that is likely here to stay. It is crucial therefore that we are prepared for the years to come.”

The original contract was inked in May 2021 under which the EU committed to purchase 900 million vaccine doses from Pfizer/BioNTech, with an option for an additional 900 million doses, by the end of 2023.

As the demand decreased last year, approximately half or more of the first 900 million doses from that contract have still not been delivered. Additionally, the extra option has not been used by the EU.