The Commission has bought the vaccines. Now it’s countries’ turn to get ready to use them.
Back in June, the Commission unveiled its first vaccine strategy to advance purchase possible coronavirus vaccines from companies. After months of sometimes controversial talks, the Commission completed contracts with three producers and is in the process of completing three others. (EU diplomats have told POLITICO that the Commission is negotiating on a seventh.)
Issued on Thursday, the Commission’s latest communication seeks to harmonize countries’ vaccination plans once a jab is approved by regulators and ready to use. Above all, a vaccine should be made free for citizens and given first to key populations, including health workers and vulnerable groups, the Commission said.
Now, it’s time for EU countries to get ready — and get on the same page — to roll out coronavirus vaccines.
But harmonization hasn’t been the EU’s strong suit. Countries have improved from the early days of the pandemic, when they imposed export bans and fought over personal protective equipment. But they’re still not deploying the same testing policies, quarantine rules, travel guidance or tracing apps. Most recently, countries couldn’t agree to harmonized travel restrictions after more than a month of negotiations.
Rolling out a vaccine will be one of the next major tests of countries’ willingness to coordinate. Each country could — in the end — choose to vaccinate different populations first or charge different prices. They also might have to grapple with different hurdles in vaccinating their citizens.
During a press conference, Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides was optimistic about the “unprecedented coordination” between EU countries, but warned that time will tell if this holds throughout the winter months.
“Unfortunately, as in every crisis, as a temporary time of extreme pressure, the situation on the ground is putting our coordination to the test,” she said.
For months, the Commission has tried to push countries along, but progress is mixed. Kyriakides noted there are still some EU countries that haven’t told the Commission how they’ve implemented the Commission’s preparedness plan from July.
“Unless we have this information, we are not able to follow and see how implementation is happening,” she said. “We need to have the information [on] how this is moving.”
Countries have been on board with advance purchasing the vaccines, but the Commission, in its paper, acknowledges that distributing them will be “a considerable challenge requiring a Read More – Source