The S&D Group urges the EU Commission and EU Council to facilitate the production of a safe vaccine to be made available and distributed in a rapid, equal, accessible and affordable manner to all. The Covid-19 pandemic has clearly shown the need to not only strengthen all member states’ healthcare systems, but also to have a better coordinated and solidary European approach that could improve patient safety and bridge national shortcomings. We also call on the EU to do its utmost to help find real solutions for the fast production and wide distribution of Covid-19 vaccines and related medical products in the developing countries experiencing catastrophic economic and social impacts, and to help them move towards a resilient recovery. No one, especially the most vulnerable populations across the world, must be left behind.
S&D coordinator in the environment committee, Jytte Guteland, said:
“Europe was one of the first and hardest hit regions by the Covid-19 virus worldwide. Now that the vaccine seems to be at hand, the whole world is looking at Europe for the level of transparency, accuracy and fairness we will be able to apply in the upcoming very sensitive distribution phase.
“Hence, we welcome the latest news coming from the European Medicine Agency about the first Covid-19 vaccine that might be approved earlier than expected.
“We can be proud that the authorisation process has been speedy without compromising the safety of the vaccine. We are still in a health crisis and we do need solutions urgently. At the same time, though, we need to guarantee sufficient transparency in the steps to come, to ensure full confidence among EU citizens on the process as a whole.
“It is now important that all member states distribute the vaccines in a fair and equitable way to ensure the best possible protection for health, and especially for people in risk groups. This pandemic has clearly shown that European member states must take joint responsibility and work together in a co-ordinated manner in order to make progress. This is a crucial time for the EU to stand together and eventually overcome this Covid-19 virus.”
S&D coordinator in the development committee, Udo Bullmann, commented:
“While certainly some areas of the world have been affected more than others by the Covid-19 pandemic, it is in the nature of this disease that we must counter it on the global level if we truly want to overcome it.
“The vaccines now in production have to be made available to all those who need them, not only those who can afford them. We should not allow the lion's share of the foreseeable vaccine production to be bought up by the privileged rich parts of the world. That would be a moral and a medical mistake. This is why we are asking vaccine producers to step up their production and grant licenses to other producers and their facilities, too.
“We are also asking the European Commission to assess the possibilities of a waiver in accordance with WTO rules, should big pharma not be willing to act in the interests of our citizens and all people in need of medical support around the world.
“The European Union has to commit more resources to the ACT Accelerator (Access to COVID-19 Tools) to strengthen all its pillars: diagnosis, therapy and vaccines. Medical supplies and lifesaving equipment must be made available wherever people are in need.
“The Global South has to be truly given access to affordable vaccines through COVAX without Western Countries buying out the market and stockpiling. Redundant vaccine doses have to be put to use in other countries.
“The European Union has to commit to using their surplus doses in low-income countries to avoid wasting these resources and risking more lives around the world.
“Eradicating Covid-19 is a challenge that we must face in global solidarity. Security from this threat cannot be bought for some and remain insufficient for others.”