One year into the novel coronavirus pandemic, countries around the world continue to step up efforts to bring the virus under control so that their societies and economies can regain some semblance of a ‘new normal’.
A key pillar in making this possible is vaccination. The European Union and its Member States, as ‘Team Europe’, host major production facilities for vaccines and one highly effective vaccine, BioNTech-Pfizer was actually developed in the EU by a small, innovative biotech firm.
Early EU investment of nearly EUR3 billion into research, innovation and production of vaccines against Covid-19 assisted in boosting capacity in the EU – a good investment for Europe and the world. Amidst a global shortage of vaccines, the truth of the matter remains that no one is safe until everyone is safe. The only way out of this pandemic is through cooperation and solidarity.
In this spirit, the EU and its MS are today supplying vaccines to the world – EU producers collectively exporting the largest quantity of doses among all members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). This achievement is well documented under the vaccine export transparency and authorisation mechanism introduced by the European Commission on 30 January 2021.
The figures tell the tale: From 30 January until 27 April* 2021, EU Member States approved export authorisation requests for 148 million doses to 44 destinations, including to countries with their own production capacities, high vaccination rates and a less severe epidemiological situation. Of 779 requests for export authorisations received during this time, only one has been rejected.
Currently, Japan is a top destination for EU vaccine exports. By 27 April*, the EU Member States have approved some 52.3 million doses for export to Japan to support Tokyo’s domestic vaccination drive. The EU is also a major contributor to the ‘COVAX Facility’, which works toward an equitable distribution of vaccines to mid- and low-income countries.
Clearly, the mechanism is not an export ban, as these hard data show. However, it is a necessary tool to ensure that EU citizens get their fair share of vaccines produced in the EU. By 29 April*, some 163 million doses have been delivered within the EU, which has a population of roughly 447.7 million.
Vaccines provide hope to billions around the world. EU/Team Europe will continue to make every effort to further boost production and offer vaccines to our own citizens while continuing to provide Japan and other partners as well.
<* updated: 30 April>