A debate on COVID-19 vaccines took place on
12 January between the EU Parliament's health committee and Sandra Gallina, Director-General
of DG SANTE and lead negotiator for EU vaccine contracts. In principle, she was
very pleased that two of the vaccines already have provisional approval and
that their efficacy and efficiency are even higher than originally assumed.
MEPs particularly criticised a lack of
transparency on the part of the EC, which led to uncertainty as well as
Taking this up further, a first contract
(CureVac) is now available for review by parliamentarians in the reading room
at the European Parliament in Brussels, with the other contracts to follow
soon. For security reasons, access is only allowed in person and individually,
and mobile phones are not allowed in the reading room. In this context, it can
also be read that the product liability directive has been especially complied
with, according to the Sandra Gallina. The liability issue continually played a
major role during question and answer sessions.
Director-General painted a fundamentally optimistic picture regarding the
supply problems that have been increasingly reported in the
media. The EC was only aware of three specific cases at the time of the debate.
Although the organisation within the Member States varies (e.g. some have a
central delivery point, while others have several), logistically it has worked
well so far.
The ECDC (European Centre for Disease
Prevention and Control) is currently setting up a system for the Member States
to report the number of vaccines they have received and used. This will make
information about the efficiency of the national vaccination campaigns
available centrally and any gaps in the batch distribution system will be
identified at an early stage.
No national solo attempts so far
Member States also have to comply with the
vaccination strategy recommendations issued by the Commission on 15 October
2020. In response to several questions from MEPs about this aspect, Sandra
Gallina stressed that parallel contracts with manufacturers at national level
are legally excluded under the contractual regulations between the EU and the
manufacturers. All of the vaccine doses ordered by Member States under the call
procedure can also be delivered. The Commission had also been able to double
the original order of 300 million vaccine doses from BioNTech/Pfizer. The Director-General
said that the EC had bought what could be bought.
When asked about the status of
AstraZeneca's next vaccine, Ms Gallina replied that the manufacturer had
already applied for provisional approval, which is expected to be granted by
the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on 29 January.
The CureVac contract has also been
published online and you can find it here.