A study prepared for the special COVI committee of the European Parliament shares light on how the great amount of funds for the development of Covid-19 vaccines was used for R&D and the expansion of the production capacity. Nine different vaccines have been examined, and comparisons have been also made with the US situation. Outcomes of the analysis may provide critical insight to address existing and future challenges relating to variants and R&D incentives. According to the study, combined support in various form by external funds was in the range of €9 billion. Other approx. €21 billion supported Advanced Purchase Agreements (APAs). The estimated R&D expenditures sustained by companies for Covid-19 vaccines is in the range of €4-5 billion for the period 2020-2021. Funds made available by European institutions and national governments were mainly used to de-risk corporate investment. The US provided a greater funding to R&D that the EU plus Member States (respectively, 24.7% vs 1%).

Avoiding fragmentation and duplication of funding for R&D on Covid-19 vaccines, and ensuring public support for clinical development of the next generation vaccines (or vaccines protecting against unknown coronaviruses) are the main lessons learnt, together with the need to create a favourable regulatory and infrastructural environment for clinical trials and a careful examination of the conditionalities of future R&D grants and de-risking mechanisms.

Source: M. Florio, S. Gamba, C. Pancotti “Mapping of long-term public and private investments in the development of Covid-19 vaccines”, Study PE 740.072, EU Parliament, Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies Directorate-General for Internal Policies, March 2023