Instead of apportioning blame, tackle and solve the problem / European Commission and Novavax negotiating contract / both sides praise constructive talks

 
"I understand very well when people are frustrated that vaccination is not happening faster. But what is not okay from my point of view is when EU countries always compare itself with the countries where things are going faster and completely ignore the fact that there are also rich industrialised nations where things are going slower. A good example is Canada, also because the country is suffering just as much as we are. Canada is affected by the rebuilding of the Pfizer plant in Belgium because they don't get the vaccine from the US, because Donald Trump has stipulated that nothing will be exported and Joe Biden has unfortunately not changed it. Canada ordered earlier and more than the EU, but is at 0.4% in the ‘complete’ vaccination rate. The table shows the rate of people who are fully vaccinated, i.e. have also received the second dose. As you can see here, some EU countries like Italy and Germany are little ahead of the UK. The UK, in fact, is pursuing a quite risky vaccination strategy. They initially vaccinate many people only once (also with the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine), although this is not covered by the licence. In the worst case, this can lead to the development of new dangerous mutations. Countries like Canada, Singapore, Switzerland and Turkey are in a much worse position than EU countries. Now I can understand everyone who says it doesn't help me if I look at countries like Canada and Switzerland, I still want to get the vaccine. Unfortunately, it also doesn't help if you only look at and Israel1  or the U.S.2 We all have to get to work now so that Europe can move forward as quickly as possible, but also as safely as possible. This was stated by the MEP and health policy spokesperson of the largest group in the European Parliament (EPP-Christian Democrats), Dr. med. Peter Liese in view of the debate on vaccine supply.

He made three concrete proposals to this end:
 
“First, the contract between the European Commission and the company Novavax must be signed immediately. It is very good news that we will have another very effective, high-quality vaccine for the EU citizens available soon. I can say this after talking to the European Commission a representative of the company. Novavax has published results of their clinical trial last week and they presented quite encouraging results. In the UK study, 89 per cent of subjects were protected from infection with Covid-19. I understood from the Commission as well as from the company after a preliminary agreement in December the two partner are now in the final stage of negotiations. Novavax representative stold me literally that they appreciate the opportunity to engage in an ongoing dialogue with the European Commission.  They agree with the Commission on the shared goals of making another safe and effective vaccine available to Europeans once clinical trials and regulatory review are completed, and appreciate the Commission's continued support. They also said that they are happy to be  engaged in the process as it is efficient, allowing them to potentially engage up to 27 member states through one entity, which is very helpful. Of concern for me is that the vaccine obviously protects not as good against the mutation from South Africa. The results from South Africa are not bad, but slightly lower. That is why we all have to be careful with that mutation and try to avoid the spread as much as possible.
 
Secondly, pressure must continue to be put on AstraZeneca. "This company is not treating EU citizens fairly. It is an important step that AstraZeneca is already starting to deliver in the next few days, with three deliveries in February instead of one. Therefore, the pressure has worked, but AstraZeneca must continue to work hard so that its reputation in the EU and worldwide does not suffer more. It is no wonder that the share price of this company fell after the approval in the EU, whereas it usually rises in such cases.
 
Thirdly, we need to work together now to ensure that we have vaccines that will work even if the mutations from South Africa and Brazil continue to spread. The EU Commission is on the right track and everyone must do his or her utmost to support the goal. In the short term, however, only strict measures against the mutations will help. The virus does not care if we are angry with anyone or blame anyone. It jumps when we get too close to each other, especially indoors. That is why it is still necessary to have video conferences instead of face-to-face meetings and to meet privately outside instead of inside whenever possible. Member States' measures and people's personal behaviour still do not respect the fact that the virus spreads about 20 times more easily indoors than outdoors. In addition, controls for people entering the country must be strengthened. In case of doubt, further flights from risk areas must be cancelled completely," said Liese.

 


1 But how can the rapid vaccination rate in Israel be explained? Israel is by far the country that has vaccinated the most people. However, the comparison with Israel is unfair. I spoke with the leaders of Israel's vaccination campaign last month and they literally stated that it would not be possible for the EU, the U.S., or any other country to use Israel's strategy. The issue here is not that Israel ordered earlier and paid more, but that there was a customized contract that even BioNTech cannot provide information about. As desirable as it is to have everyone vaccinated as quickly as Israel: it is just completely unrealistic for any other country. Apprently, it was crucial I that Israel agreed to make the medical records of all those vaccinated (in anonymous form) available to Pfizer. Such a deal has not been offered to any other country in the world.
 
2 The United States is particularly quick to vaccinate for three reasons. First, they have done emergency approval and thus have been able to start more quickly. But emergency approval also means that the manufacturer is not liable even if it makes its own mistakes. Secondly, Donald Trump has imposed an export ban, and thirdly, in the USA there is the so-called BARDA, an institution that George W. Bush already founded and which can easily mobilize large amounts of money. We should adopt the latter in the EU, but certainly not the other two things.
 

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