It’s been more than a year since the Covid-19 pandemic spread across Europe and the world. Millions have died from this virus. The magnitude of the crisis socially, economically and on the personal level is unprecedented in the history of the European Union. Yet, through an extraordinary effort, centred on international cooperation, we managed to develop in less than ten months not only one, but several vaccines. We put our trust in science to make sure that those vaccines are safe and effective. The Union’s aim is and has been to get as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people, as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the production bottleneck was underestimated, the international cooperation that had worked so well for the development and research of the vaccines vanished in the production and distribution phase. We must continue to ramp up efforts to expand vaccine manufacturing and distribution. It is crucial to boost production and incentivise to increase the current vaccine manufacturing capacity. We must also work to increase the raw materials and ingredients needed to produce these vaccines.
The S&D Group will always support a European approach towards the procurement, distribution and deployment of vaccines. However, we do recognise that there are shortcomings and failures with important lessons to be learned by the Commission and Member States. We urgently need to adapt and address these issues. We are firmly convinced that only by working together, both at the European level and internationally, can we overcome this crisis.
Furthermore, we might face a situation where the pandemic will turn into an endemic situation that will occur regularly by local or seasonal outbreaks with risks of new worldwide spreading. This may leads to the future need for additional vaccinations or even for yearly vaccinations for a substantial part of our population. We must therefore take into account lessons learnt and prepare for the long term.
Vaccines are a public good and universal access should be ensured. Billions of EU citizens’ money have gone into the development and purchase of vaccines and they rightly expect results. We need to show solidarity between Member States, but also globally. Inequalities are increasing all around the world and it is of the utmost importance to protect everyone’s health, in particular vulnerable populations and countries. Vaccines must be available to all and we call for real equity in the global access to vaccines, recognising health as a global common good with no territorial limit.