• 04-JUL-2013

  • SOURCE: S&D Group at European Parliament

Coronavirus: The EU Prepares Equitable Access to Vaccines in Case of Pandemic

The "pandemic" of the H1N1 flu in 2009, the volcanic ash and the aluminium sludge spill in Hungary in 2010, and the E. coli bacteria outbreak in 2011 revealed the weaknesses in the national and European crisis mechanisms. This is why the European Parliament today approved the report on serious cross-border health threats, which fills a legal vacuum at the European level.

The rapporteur, French S&D MEP Gilles Pargneaux, said:

"There are still threats: we must be better prepared to deal with the H7N9 avian flu and coronavirus. This is the objective of the report that we have just adopted.

"The greatest success is the creation of a legal basis for co-ordinating the purchase of vaccines and medicines in Europe. Access to vaccines will be more equitable as they will be available at fairer prices. The EU will from now on be able to launch the production of vaccines itself, ultimately enabling faster vaccination in case of an emergency.

"We will extend the co-ordination mechanism that applies to communicable diseases to all biological, chemical or environmental health threats.

"Improved efficiency in the fight against serious health threats will be enhanced by the possibility of declaring a European 'state of health emergency', the obligation of information-sharing and mutual consultation between member states and the European Commission, strengthening the role of the health security committee and creating a legal basis for co-ordinating the purchase of vaccines and drugs.

"Our priorities were the need for a coherent communication strategy co-ordinated across the EU to avoid the mistakes made during the crisis caused by the E. coli outbreak, the independence of experts (which is not always easy to ensure when purchasing vaccines) and the enhanced co-operation between the health sector and the veterinary sector to fight effectively against animal disease."

Available content includes an edited package.