European Union External Action

#SafeVaccines for all: the road to end the pandemic

11/01/2021 - 10:32

The pandemic has struck a devastating effect across the globe. The vaccine is the lifejacket that we were all looking for to save lives and rebuild our collective way of living. “This hope will only materialise if we get the whole world vaccinated rapidly. No one is really safe until everybody is safe.” wrote EU High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell. This is why the EU has been at the forefront of the development of a vaccine and will continue working at multilateral level to ensure fair access to it.


Until today, the European Union has approved two vaccines to combat COVID-19. A first vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer was approved at the end of 2020. This moment brought an increased hope to put an end to COVID-19, which was reinforced with the approval of a second vaccine developed by Moderna at the beginning of 2021.

Both vaccines passed the tests and complied with the standards set by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for its safety, effectiveness and quality.

Every opportunity seized for the development of a vaccine saves human lives

The efforts taken to get to this point have been of an extraordinary nature. As vaccine development is usually a very complex and lengthy process, special and joint efforts were necessary to speed up the development of the vaccine. Thanks to the EU strategy for COVID-19 vaccines, the first vaccine was developed in less than a year, compared to the usual period of around 10 years for other vaccines.

The urgency led the EU to stand more united by ensuring that the most promising candidates are supported in their vaccine development and in the building-up of manufacturing capacity. It is within the framework of the EU`s research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020 and the significant financial support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments that the BioNTech and Pfizer vaccine was developed. High Representative Josep Borrell commented this achievement: “So we Europeans can be especially proud of this success”.

An achievement without compromising the safety of those receiving the vaccine

Strict and robust authorisation procedures and safety standards must be respected at all times. This requires running clinical trials in parallel with investing in production capacity to be able to produce millions, or even billions of doses of a successful vaccine.

Dose of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer in the Pauls Stradiņš Clinical University Hospital, Latvia

The development of a safe and effective vaccine is at the heart of the EU’s coronavirus response. The achievement of having now two authorised vaccines promises a lasting response to the pandemic.

EU takes a strong stand in the fight against the global pandemic

There will be no recovery of the global economy with entire world regions lagging behind in terms of vaccinations. The EU launched a Global Coronavirus Response to mobilise resources and join forces among countries and global health organisations to accelerate the development and deployment of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines wherever they are needed.

A global pandemic needs to be solved globally.

The EU is committed to help ensure that everyone who needs a COVID-19 vaccine has access to it, anywhere in the world. That is why we are supporting the COVAX Facility. This global initiative brings together governments and manufacturers to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines reach those in greatest need: whoever they are and wherever they live.

The EU brings a key contribution to ensure over one billion vaccine doses will be made available to people in low and middle-income countries by the end of 2021.

In addition, vaccines procured by the EU will be made available to partners in the Western Balkans, the European neighbourhood and in the frame of humanitarian crises.

The continuous support of a multilateral effort will be key to ensure that the pandemic is fought at a global scale. It has always been essential that we team up with partners around the world. Not only with businesses and civil society organisations, but also with other countries, that can contribute with valuable expertise.

“Each country and region has particular strengths. Some, like India, have a lot of experience in vaccine production or distributions under difficult climatic conditions. We also have to work closely with Africa to tap their experience in handling infectious diseases on the ground” highlighted High Representative Josep Borrell.

Preparation of the first coronavirus vaccines for their distribution in Spain

The COVID-19 is not a European challenge, but a global one. The work developed so far has demonstrated the benefits of a joined-up EU approach in speeding up vaccine development. ‘Team Europe’ approach has brought relief to many around the world.

The European Union continues working on and supporting the development of more solutions to put an end to the pandemic, and assuming its responsibility, together with its Member States, to make a vaccine universally available.

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