Companies that manufacture Covid-19 vaccines “have to deliver,” said EU chief Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday as tensions between her European Commission and pharmaceutical companies increased over late deliveries.
“Europe has invested billions to help develop the world‘s first Covid-19 vaccines,” she said in a live video address to an online-only version of the annual World Economic Forum, which normally takes place in Davos, Switzerland.
“And now companies have to deliver. They have to meet their obligations,” she said.
The Commission is asking the British-Swedish group AstraZeneca and the US company Pfizer to respond to delays, both of which have announced that they have made deliveries to the European Union.
In a sign of concern that pharmaceutical companies might sell the earmarked doses to higher bidders outside the bloc, companies are urged to notify authorities about exports outside the European Union.
Von der Leyen underlined this initiative in her speech and said: “We will set up a mechanism for the transparency of vaccine exports” to ensure that the companies meet their contractual obligations to the EU.
The problem is delicate for von der Leyen, who led efforts to get the Commission to source more than two billion doses of potential Covid-19 vaccines for the bloc’s 27 member states, which are home to 450 million people.
Last week – after Pfizer’s announced delay, but before AstraZenecas – von der Leyen swore to vaccinate 70 percent of adults in the EU by the end of August. That goal is now in jeopardy.
The pace of EU rollout has lagged behind the US, UK and Israel, although member states such as Malta, Denmark and France have started accelerating their programs.
In her speech, von der Leyen said that the Commission’s vaccine procurement is not only intended for the EU, but also for poorer non-EU countries, which are to be supplied through a COVAX vaccine alliance led by the World Health Organization.
As part of a longer term strategy to deal with this and future health crises, von der Leyen said the EU would propose a public-private entity under a new European Authority for Emergency Health Care.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)