Employee Jessica Mueller brings the Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine into a freezer in the vaccine warehouse, where the cans will be stored in Irxleben near Magdeburg, eastern Germany, before being distributed on January 8, 2021.
RONNY HARTMANN | AFP | Getty Images
LONDON – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday called on coronavirus vaccine makers to deliver on their pledges to deliver millions of doses to the block and beyond.
Your comments face an unprecedented challenge for the EU when it comes to introducing vaccines in each of the 27 Member States. The EU’s vaccination campaign began on December 27, a later start than the UK or US, and the patchy, slow rollouts in many of its members have worried officials and the public.
“Europe has invested billions to support the development of the world’s first Covid-19 vaccines. To create a truly global common good,” said von der Leyen at the virtual Davos Agenda summit. “And now companies have to deliver. They have to meet their obligations.”
“Europe is determined to contribute to this global common good, but it also means business,” she said
“We were turned inwards”
A few hours later and at the same time, Chancellor Angela Merkel called for more cooperation and multilateralism in the life-saving blows.
She told the World Economic Forum: “It has become even clearer to me than before that we have to take a multilateral approach, that a self-isolating approach will not solve our problems.”
The coronavirus pandemic highlighted the high level of interdependence and networking in the world, and Germany initially made the mistake of looking inward to defeat the pandemic instead of working with others.
“We looked inward and cut ourselves off from each other, but very quickly we learned the lesson (not to do that),” she said.
Lack of vaccine
With the increase in infections and related bans, the EU is now faced with the challenge of vaccine shortages. Both Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca have warned of production issues that will either mean a temporary cut in production and the supplies the EU is receiving, and in the case of AstraZeneca, could mean it cannot meet a commitment to deliver 80 million Cans until the end of March.
An unnamed official told Reuters last week that AstraZeneca announced that the supply would instead be around 31 million doses, around 60% less than envisaged by the EU, which is expected to use the vaccine for emergencies later this week.
The news, understandably, enraged the bloc, which threatened to restrict exports of vaccines from the EU. The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is made in Belgium.
Talks between the EU and AstraZeneca are due to resume on Wednesday. The former asked the pharmaceutical company to provide detailed plans for the manufacture and sale of vaccines. EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said in a statement on Monday that an “export transparency mechanism” would be put in place to assess vaccine exports from the EU.
Haves vs. have-nots
The supply of vaccines is also a hot topic of conversation outside of Europe, which like other wealthy nations has at least started its vaccination campaigns. The poorer countries say they are at the bottom when it comes to access to life-saving footage.
Last week, the World Health Organization head said the equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines was at “serious risk” and warned of “catastrophic moral failure” if vaccines were not distributed fairly.
This point was repeated on Tuesday by Angel Gurria, Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
“This is the biggest test for all of humanity, and especially for OECD countries, as most of those countries bought three, five or even ten times as many vaccines as their entire population,” Gurria told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe “. “”
These vaccines are “badly needed” in developing countries and could “be a very important source of overseas aid support and international cooperation,” he added. “We won’t get rid of this pandemic until it’s gone everywhere,” he said.