Vaccines against the coronavirus: “Things did not go as they should”, recognizes Alexander De Croo


The announcements of delivery delays have indeed multiplied since the start of vaccination in the EU, even though the Commission had theoretically taken into account, in its advance purchase contracts with producers, mobilizable production capacities.

JUntil today, “things have not gone as they should”, in terms of vaccination against the coronavirus in Europe, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Open Vld) said Wednesday in the House. Along with a handful of other EU states, Belgium “pleads for a much greater sense of urgency”, which prompted it to send a letter to the President of the European Council and other leaders of state and government of the 27.

They meet these Thursday and Friday by video conference, devoted in part to the Covid-19 pandemic (Thursday). Vaccine production capacities, preparation for new variants of the virus, the development of a “vaccination certificate” and border restrictions (as introduced in Belgium) will all be subjects to be discussed.

In anticipation of this virtual summit, Alexander De Croo and his Danish counterparts Mette Frederiksen, Spanish Pedro Sánchez, Polish Mateusz Morawiecki, as well as Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, on Tuesday signed a letter to European Council President Charles Michel and other leaders of the European Union. 27. Objective of the letter: to encourage Europe to act more decisively to ensure sufficient production capacities of vaccine against Covid-19 (and possible future viruses).

It is precisely on the production of vaccines that the letter co-signed by Alexander De Croo focuses, as the Prime Minister indicated on Wednesday to the Federal Advisory Committee responsible for European Questions.

“Europe is the leading vaccine power in the world”, but “we have not sufficiently reaped the benefits”, notes Alexander De Croo. The announcements of delivery delays have indeed multiplied since the start of vaccination in the EU, even though the Commission had theoretically taken into account, in its advance purchase contracts with producers, mobilizable production capacities. “In my opinion, this is mainly due to the lack of strategic monitoring of the coordination between the different stages of the vaccine production value chain. Europe must show much more efficiency and flexibility in its organization, ”the Liberal explained to the House. We should “dare to leave aside the classic logic of representation: each operational step does not necessarily have to be confirmed by 27 Member States”, he suggests.

Belgium seems in any case decided to take a leadership role in this area, alongside Denmark. In the joint letter with Spain, Lithuania and Poland, the two countries suggest ensuring “adequate support for European producers” in the event of unexpected hiccups, among other things through the construction of new sites and public-private partnerships. at all stages, from research to manufacturing.

At the Prime Minister’s office, we note that in Israel, the United States and the United Kingdom, the authorities are organizing themselves with companies and experts and reacting with more aggressiveness and efficiency to potential shortages in production. . The American BARDA has thus set itself in search of vaccine production capacities, “and can even mobilize the army to import raw materials, machines and products at record speed if necessary”.

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Alexander De Croo speaks, both in his letter and in the House, of switching to “real strategic management of the entire value chain”. “Concluding contracts is not enough, we must take a leadership role in the field, with the private sector, both in the development, authorization, production and distribution” of vaccines, he assured. Wednesday.

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