The red light for non-essential travel will remain on; the priority is to speed up the vaccination process (meet the challenge of reaching September 21 with 255 million immunized Europeans). And the so-called vaccination passport could be a reality by the summer. Those were the great general ideas left by the first day of the telematics summit of leaders that was held this Thursday. And of all of them, the latter was the most outstanding if one takes into account that the formula of the sanitary ‘safe conduct’, defended by Austria, Spain or Greece, among others, has been weighing down reluctance in other capitals for weeks. Germany and France, for example, questioned it for a hypothetical discriminatory charge.
The point is that the European Council not only revealed that the tool already has majority support in the EU, but that there are even deadlines. Angela Merkel, from Berlin, assured at the end of the meeting that the European partners will launch the formula “for the summer”, which would make intra-border travel possible. And from Brussels, the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, stressed that what is called from now on is to define political development and “advance at a technical level” for what would take “three months”. She, too, referred to arriving “in time for summer.” There was agreement on at least three general data from this digital certificate that can serve as a reference for all Member States: vaccination, negative PCR or immunization (presence of antibodies) for having overcome the disease.
million received up to this week in the EU. 55 are expected in March and 300 million in the second quarter from Pfizer-Biontec, Moderna and AstraZeneca.
«They will be a valid and useful tool. We must continue working on its development jointly to prevent each country from developing its own formula, prevent unfair situations and guarantee the protection of personal data “, highlighted the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez.
What has been understood, in short, is that not activating a tool of this type with consensus could lead to a new cascade of chaotic national decisions, such as those experienced in the past. But until that oxygen balloon arrives for Spanish tourism, what we have to do is maintain the restrictions. And here the president of the Council, Charles Michel, called for “proportionality” in the face of the drastic entry bans that countries such as Belgium, Denmark or Germany itself have imposed to contain the spread of the virus.
Sánchez: “We must prevent each country from developing its own formula, protect personal data and avoid unfair situations”
And step on the gas with vaccination. Between April and May, an average of one hundred million doses per month is expected. And that’s only from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca. Distribution would increase with a larger catalog of approved vaccines (the imminent Janssen, in March). That is what Von der Leyen clings to to maintain the goal of immunizing 70% of the population by the end of the summer.
The German had to answer many uncomfortable questions from leaders about supply delays, how to speed up production, the delivery schedule, exports … And from some capitals a stricter approach was required “on the export ban vaccines to those companies that do not respect the commitments. New pressure load.
The CEOs of the pharmaceutical companies appear in the European Parliament and commit a greater distribution
While the leaders debated from the capitals on how to spur the production and distribution of vaccines, in the European Parliament, executives of different pharmaceutical companies participated in a telematic debate with MEPs and officials of the Commission. The CEO of AstraZeneca, Pascal Soriot, the firm that has maintained the most heated dispute with Brussels for its delays in the delivery of doses, defended that in the coming months it will “significantly increase” production as a result of an inertia that he raised as logic.
And it is that “performance and production increase as we become more familiar with the manufacturing process. In the pharmaceutical industry it often takes years to polish the process and in this case we have only had six months’ to achieve full-scale manufacturing. Soriot fled controversy and remarked that the “vast majority of what we manufacture in the EU” stays in the EU – he referred to “control samples” to Mexico as the only export today. In defense of the efficacy of his vaccine (questioned in some countries) he spoke of “a 94% reduction in serious hospitalizations with a first dose and a 75% reduction in the case of moderate ones. The decrease is 100% with the second dose.
The general director of CureVac, for his part, trusted that his serum will achieve the authorization of the EMA “at the end of May or June”, while also defending the high response of his vaccine against the British and South African variants, in different clinical trials.
From Moderna, its general director recalled that the American multinational has invested 1,300 million dollars for its implantation on European soil “where we had no plant or product to date.” On the part of Johnson & Johnson, its CEO promised to deliver “the 200 million doses promised to the EU this year.”