COVID-19 vaccines: MEPs quiz top officials on authorisation and contracts

On Tuesday, MEPs quizzed the European Commission and European Medicines Agency on latest developments concerning the authorisation and purchase of COVID-19 vaccines

EMA director Emer Cooke
EMA director Emer Cooke

Emer Cooke, Executive Director of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) updated Members of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Committee on the latest developments regarding the evaluation and authorisation of COVID-19 vaccines in the EU.

During the debate, MEPs asked about the timeframe of future approvals of vaccines, the results of monitoring the long-term efficacy of existing vaccines, as well as the recent investigation linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine. MEPs expressed their concerns regarding the slow rollout in the member states, and quizzed the EMA on the status of approving new EU manufacturing sites and maximising the use of vaccines doses.

In her answers, Emer Cooke reassured MEPs that the EU has in place a continuous control system to ensure that vaccines are safe and effective. She underlined the importance of communicating transparently to the EU public and building trust in scientific advice. She also reiterated the EMA’s commitment to applying the same standards in the authorisation of vaccines, irrespective of their origin.

Sandra Gallina, the Commission’s Director-General for Health and Food Safety (SANTE), was quizzed by Members of the Budgetary Control Committee (CONT) on the eight advanced purchase agreements (APA) on vaccines concluded by the Commission with pharmaceutical companies.

MEPs questioned Gallina on whether pharmaceutical companies are delivering on the contracts, the possible advantages of patent liberalisation, distribution of doses, fake vaccines available in the market, and making the cost of vaccines transparent. MEPs also raised the controversial issue of the contract with AstraZeneca. The Director-General confirmed that the company has not even delivered a quarter of the vaccines agreed in advance with the EU. She also committed to use all means available to reverse this situation.

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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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