More than 12 million EU citizens vaccinated for COVID-19, EU health chief says

The Eureopan Commission's Director-General for Health says the EU does not need to envy the US' or Israel COVID-19 vaccine rollout, having already administered the vaccination to over 12 million EU citizens

'No need to envy US or Israel,' Sandra Gallina said
'No need to envy US or Israel,' Sandra Gallina said

The European Union has vaccinated more than 12 million citizens, the European Commission’s Director-General for Health said on Monday.

Sandra Gallina was facing questioning by members of the European Parliament’s Budget Committee on vaccine availability and the use of the EU budget.

She explained what the Commission is doing to obtain enough vaccines to reach its objective of having 70% of the EU’s adult population inoculated by the summer.

“Contracts have to be negotiated rapidly with liability and indemnification being of paramount importance,” Gallina said. “The EU has gone beyond the 12-million-vaccinations mark and there is no need to envy the US or Israel”.

Committee Chair Johan Van Overtveldt (ECR, BE) said that MEPs “did their duty”, by adopting the Emergency Support Instrument in April and managing to triple the EU4Health and boost the Horizon Europe research programmes in the negotiations on the EU long-term budget for 2021-2027.

MEPs asked for the contracts with Astra Zeneca and others to be more transparent, especially on how funds from the EU budget are used and distributed, and how much money is coming from member states.

The deals with the pharmaceutical companies are of “overriding public interest” and should therefore be disclosed, they said.

Some MEPs demanded that €1.5 billion of unused funds from the research programme and the EU budget margins be used to improve the vaccination rollout in the EU.

Gallina maintained that this money should be spent on tackling variants of COVID-19, and that the problem is linked to production rather than the number of doses ordered.

She said she was relying on a breakthrough in the second quarter of 2021 and on companies whose vaccines are not yet registered – as well as on a second contract with BioNTech – to reach the Commission’s vaccination objective.

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