Health May 19, 2021 | 10:49 am

UE and COVAX: solidarity in action

Press Release By:

. Dr. Volker Pellet – Ambassador of Germany

  • Jehanne Roccas – Ambassador of Belgium
  • Eric Fournier – Ambassador of France
  • Andrea Canepari – Ambassador of Italy
  • Annemieke Verrijp – Ambassador of the Netherlands
  • Gianluca Grippa – Ambassador, Head of the Delegation of the European Union

(Standard translation)

Santo Domingo.- We are aware of the European Union’s expectations for global leadership and our aspirations in seeking global and multilateral solutions to COVID-19 in a fair and equitable manner. Hence, the European Union and its member states have opted for multilateral cooperation through the COVAX mechanism to deal with the pandemic.

The COVAX mechanism is a global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. Its goal was to purchase 2 billion doses by the end of 2021, including 1.3 billion doses for low- and middle-income countries. The advantages are several: thanks to the donation of the European Union, the European Investment Bank and the Member States, with more than USD$3.0 billion – we are the largest donor of the COVAX mechanism, supporting more than a third of the total budget -, ensures access to vaccines for those countries that cannot afford them. It has also made it possible to negotiate with different suppliers a lower price than that offered for other vaccines: the Dominican Republic has received 91,200 doses through COVAX at a price of USD4 per dose, five times lower than the price of other vaccines.

The objective behind the COVAX mechanism is valid, but the challenge is to increase the production capacity of vaccines and eliminate export barriers by some countries outside our territory.

The European Union is committed to the goal of ensuring that everyone who needs a vaccine receives it, anywhere in the world, and to promoting global health. Through COVAX, 40.5 million vaccines have been delivered to 118 countries. But in addition to the global vaccination campaign effort, the European Union has invested $ 48.5 billion to help partners address the health, social and economic consequences of the pandemic and rebuild the economy in a sustainable way.

The option of multilateralism is fully in line with our overall commitment to solidarity and justice. However, when it comes to so-called ‘vaccine diplomacy’, the European flag does not appear on vaccine deliveries, but rather that of COVAX. As the High Representative of the EU, Josep Borrell, said, “the EU is the main engine of COVAX’s work, but we do not get the diplomatic recognition that countries that use ‘vaccine diplomacy’ bilaterally get.”

The vast majority of countries face a shortage of vaccines in the market, and what is worse, a breach of advance purchase contracts by pharmaceutical companies. Both the Dominican Republic and the European Union advanced the payment of the purchase of millions of doses for their population, which never arrived, or did so in quantities much lower than those agreed. The European Union has recently sued the manufacturer AstraZeneca / Oxford in court for breach of contract. During the first half of 2021, this pharmaceutical will only have supplied 100 million of the 300 million doses agreed by contract.

From the beginning, the European Union and its Member States chose the path of global cooperation to face together the fight against COVID-19. The first was financing the research with more than USD $ 1,000 M, and with USD $ 3,500 M the development of the productive capacity of the laboratories. Thanks to early investment in projects with a high risk index, with no guarantees about the success of the final result, today we have vaccines. New mRNA technology, which has been essential for the rapid development of various vaccines, has been developed in Europe.

The EU has been instrumental in supporting the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine with German research and technology. In addition, EU countries such as Italy, hard hit during the first phase of the pandemic, made available to the international community and the WHO all the medical and treatment data against COVID: this effort, despite a health situation difficult internal process and in the spirit of transparency and multilateral cooperation, contributed to saving thousands of lives around the world. Finally, Italy even continued to export personal protection devices and material for the fight against Covid.

With a population of 450 million people, the European Union chose to buy more vaccines than it would need to vaccinate all.

Comments are closed.