The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, appeared this Wednesday in the European Parliament to report on the vaccination strategy in the EU. A week ago, recent still the conflict with pharmaceutical AstraZeneca due to supply cuts, and touched by the political setback (later amended) of including drastic customs controls on the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland to prevent the export of anticovid serums to the United Kingdom, it has already given explanations behind closed doors to MEPs popular, socialist, liberal and green. The bad drink happened in that round of meetings. Although he was required to go further and render accounts in plenary session. It is what he has done.
Assuming “errors that I deeply regret” (such as the one that put the peace accords in Ulster at risk). But also recognizing that expectations had soared with the supply rates of pharmaceutical companies. “We have been too optimistic with the production capacity and perhaps we were too sure that what we had ordered and paid for was going to be delivered on time”, admitted the German at the start of the debate. A problem that did not confine to the EU because “globally we have underestimated the difficulties of mass production,” he added.
AstraZeneca will finally deliver the Twenty-seven 40 million doses during this first quarter even though the commission anticipated a distribution of around one hundred million. To date, 26 million doses have been delivered from the three laboratories (in addition to AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BionTec and Moderna) that have obtained authorization from the European Medicines Agency (EMA). “There are already 17 million Europeans vaccinated, but we are still not in the place we wanted.” Especially if one takes into account that the recommendation of Brussels is that at the end of the summer 70% of the adult population should be.
So reinforce communication with the EMA without “taking shortcuts in safety or efficacy” and strengthen the communication process with pharmaceutical companies to “detect problems and help solve them.” Because what is clear, defended Von der Leyen, is that “science has surpassed the industry, in 10 months vaccines have been obtained that required between five and ten years and the industry has to catch up” because, he added, “The EU has invested billions of euros and we need predictability.”
Despite the setbacks, the clashes with the pharmaceutical companies, the time required by the EMA for the validation of the different formulas … despite all that, Von der Leyen defends the joint purchase of vaccines as the best decision taken under his mandate because «no I want to think about what would have happened. Without it, the big countries would have guaranteed their own distribution, leaving the rest in the ditch. A folly that would have meant the end of our community.
Von der Leyen also announced in this plenary session that next week the European Commission will launch a plan to prepare the EU for possible new mutations of the pathogen with a higher degree of transmissibility, supported by greater sequencing and characterization with a more fluid exchange of information between laboratories. «The battle against this virus is a marathon, not a sprint. You need foresight, stamina and stamina. We have to anticipate and prepare immediately, “he stressed.