Germany to secure COVID-19 vaccine production through 2029

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An employee of German biopharmaceutical company CureVac, demonstrates research workflow on a vaccine for the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease at a laboratory in Tuebingen, Germany, March 12, 2020. Picture taken on March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert/File Photo

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BERLIN, March 16 (Reuters) - Germany plans to spend up to 2.861 billion euros ($3.14 billion) to ensure that COVID-19 vaccine makers have enough production capacity available to supply the country with shots in future outbreaks through 2029, the economy ministry said.

Germany's cabinet approved plans on Wednesday to sign contracts with BioNTech (22UAy.DE), CureVac/GSK (5CV.DE), (GSK.L), Wacker/CordenPharma, Celonic and IDT, the ministry said in a statement.

The contracts will maintain the ratcheted-up production capacities created during the coronavirus pandemic by paying an annual standby fee, ensuring enough vaccine can be produced quickly for the population.

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"We have learned from the coronavirus pandemic and initial vaccine shortage: With these contracts, we are securing vaccine production and supply for years to come and are taking precautions for the citizens of Germany," said Economy Minister Robert Habeck.

The contracts give the government access rights to the companies' production capacities if the coronavirus pandemic persists or a new pandemic breaks out, and contain arrangements stipulating vaccine supply and production for the government.

The next step is to sign pandemic readiness agreements with the five companies, according to the economy ministry.

($1 = 0.9106 euros)

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Reporting by Miranda Murray; Editing by Emma Thomasson and Maria Sheahan

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