Stella Kyriakidou: No country safe until the virus is brought under control on all continents

The European Union is ready to play its geopolitical role here, in full alignment with its founding values ​​for vaccination in the rest of the world, said today the Commissioner for Health Stella Kyriakidou addressing the plenary session of the European Parliament in relation to the global vaccination EU strategy, warning that no country will be safe and no economy will really recover until the virus is brought under control on all continents and stressing that the emerging variants of the virus are proof of this.

In particular, addressing the members of the EP, the Commissioner reminded that since the spring of last year "we have lost more than 400.000 lives in the EU", while with the new, more contagious variants of the virus that appear and are detected in the Member States, we are still far "We have a lot to overcome the pandemic, but we have also turned a page and we are starting in 2021 with powerful tools to gradually stop this pandemic", he pointed out.

He said "there is light on the horizon", as "every day, across the EU, priority groups are vaccinated with safe, effective vaccines from BioNTech / Pfizer and Moderna".

"More approved vaccines will come, I hope, in the coming weeks. "The European Medicines Agency has recently received an application for the AstraZeneca vaccine and expects to receive more applications in the coming months."

The Commissioner even expressed gratitude to the scientists who have made significant discoveries in record time and the countless health workers. "

Regarding the global dimension of the pandemic, the Commissioner warned that "no country will be safe and no economy will really recover until the virus is brought under control on all continents" and "the emerging variants of the virus are proof for this".

As he said, "the European Union is ready to play its geopolitical role here, in full alignment with its founding values" to provide vaccines to the rest of the world.

"We strongly believe that fair access can be ensured through a multilateral approach. And that's why we were one of the architects of COVAX at a very early stage of the pandemic with this exact goal. COVAX, the global ability to ensure fair and universal access to vaccines COVID-19"It aims to buy 2 billion installments by the end of 2021, including more than 1,3 billion for low- and middle-income countries."

The Commissioner explained that "the EU and its Member States, as` Team Europe`, have so far donated more than € 850 million to COVAX - making the EU one of its largest donors. We know this is just the beginning and we will need to mobilize additional support as we move forward. Also, as part of the EU Vaccine Strategy, we have invested in productivity to make vaccines more readily available to everyone, everywhere. And we called for the free flow of vaccines and supplies without restrictions on exports, including through the Trade and Health Initiative at the World Trade Organization. We are also working with the Member States to propose a European mechanism for the sharing of vaccines across our borders, especially before the full operation of COVAX ", he explained in detail to the members of the EP.

The Commissioner stressed that "the EU's greatest strength is its unified voice. Working together, we have secured a wide portfolio of vaccines and can rely on advanced technologies, collective bargaining and good contracts in terms of responsibility and delivery. "But we also have a responsibility to use our power to support others."

He noted that "through the vaccine exchange mechanism, we will help priority groups in the Western Balkans and the EU neighborhood, as well as health professionals in low-income countries, especially in Africa, and the most vulnerable populations in humanitarian access to vaccines ”.

In particular, "we will provide grants of 70 million euros to the Western Balkans, so that they can buy vaccines from our Member States," he announced. "We are also cooperating with the World Health Organization for immediate support of more than 50 million euros for vaccination readiness in the Western Balkans and neighboring countries."

"Each of these efforts contributes to the same goal - fast, equitable and universal access to safe and effective vaccines. And everything is based on the same fundamental principle - global solidarity. This holds the key to a healthier, more equal and more sustainable world. And this benefits each of us ", he pointed out.

"Finally, let me assure you that we have heard your calls for transparency, I fully appreciate and recognize that the democratically elected EU Parliament must be able to oversee our work under the right conditions. As you know, we are bound by the confidentiality clauses in the contracts. However, I welcome the fact that one of our first vaccine suppliers has agreed to make the text of our agreement available to Members of the European Parliament. "I hope this is not the end of the road and we continue to work with all vaccine suppliers to reach an agreement to extend this access to you as much as possible."