The EU plans to provide COVID-19 vaccines to its member states within 12-18 months, according to its new strategy announced on Wednesday.

The European Commission will sign agreements with vaccine producers on behalf of EU member states to help the development and production of vaccines against the virus.

The deal will contribute to the cost of research and development in exchange for delivering a certain number of cures in an agreed period of time.

The EU hopes to start the vaccination program within 12-18 months from now, if not earlier.

“This is a moment for science and solidarity. Nothing is certain, but I am confident that we can mobilize the resources to find a vaccine to beat this virus once and for all”, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said.

The EU budget will finance the program by €2.7 billion ($3 billion) from the Emergency Support Instrument and the European Investment Bank will also provide EU-guaranteed loans to the companies.

But the pre-financing will only cover a fraction of the total charges, and EU states will have the pay for the vaccines once they are delivered.

The EU’s executive body will also change the EU regulation to facilitate and speed up the authorization procedure of the medicines while maintaining the same safety standards.

The strategy follows the initiative of Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands who announced similar pre-finance agreements last week.

Under these deals, only EU member states could get automatically the vaccines once they are produced, but the European Commission perceives the financial assistance for the research and development as a contribution to the global fight against the pandemic.

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