In light of the public hearing entitled ‘How to increase the capacity of COVID-19 vaccine production and improve delivery’, jointly hosted by the environment, public health and food safety committee (ENVI) and the industry, research and energy committee (ITRE) in the European Parliament, the Socialists and Democrats Group demands all pharmaceutical companies to increase the production of vaccines, and look at future challenges with new variants and strains. Current shortfalls, with notably AstraZeneca but also to an extent with other manufacturers, not only question pharmaceuticals production capacity, but also the way we should adapt EU strategy, especially when companies fail to deliver on agreed commitments.
S&D coordinator in the ENVI committee, Jytte Guteland, commented:
“Since the very beginning of the vaccination campaign in Europe, we have heard questionable excuses from pharmaceutical companies trying to justify their failure to respect agreed commitments and live up to EU citizens’ expectations.
“This is not acceptable. Europe has paid for these vaccines in advance with public money and we demand that companies respect the agreements. Every single day of delay is a failure for our health and the economic recovery.
“In the specific case of AstraZeneca, a shortfall of a magnitude above 60% of agreed quotas from December 2020 until end of the first quarter 2021 is unjustifiable, especially if the doses produced in the EU are exported to the UK whilst the EU shortfalls might only be addressed by other global manufacturing sites. Words and explanations must now turn into deeds. We call on AstraZeneca’s management to ensure that such shameful shortcomings are urgently fixed.
“We are hopeful that the Commission’s Task Force, called upon to eliminate current bottlenecks and boost production, together with strengthened cooperation amongst pharmaceutical companies, will make a real difference. Only together we will overcome this pandemic”.
S&D coordinator in the ITRE committee, Dan Nica, said:
“The current vaccine roll-out is unacceptable, despite of the unique and historical joint efforts of the international community. The citizens we are representing expect transparency and accountability, accurate data and clear-cut information on the efficiency of the vaccines used. I call on all pharmaceutical companies involved in the vaccines production to play fair and deliver on their commitments.
“Moreover, I urge them to openly commit to technology transfers and present detailed plans in this respect, with the clear aim to boost production and to create a better pooling of production capacity, so the vaccination campaigns, at EU level, can be speeded up. In times of human emergency, given the high stakes, I expect the companies to favour the long-term interests of our European citizens and of the wider society, ahead of the short-term gains for their shareholders. It is a race against the clock for the entire humanity to contain the virus from further mutating!”