Schinas promises ‘affordable and equitable’ access to COVID-19 vaccine

The vice president of the European Commission has reassured citizens that the rollout of a future coronavirus vaccine will be fair and well organised, and admitted the frustration felt within the EU executive at the chaos in healthcare at the beginning of the pandemic.

Margaritis Schinas, the commissioner responsible for “Promoting Our European Way of Life’ was speaking to Euronews during the final plenary of the 5th European Health Parliament, an initiative to promote policy innovations from young healthcare specialists across the EU. Euronews is a partner in the EHP.

Asked about the rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine, he said: “There is a plan, and this time we will not see what we saw in the early stage of the cacophony around the personal protective equipment.”

“This time we have a centralised EU approach, we have money for this, and we are well advanced to allow all Europeans to have access – affordable and equitable – access to the vaccine.”

He compared the reaction of many European states at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis to that of individuals who hoarded goods from supermarkets and closed themselves off from the rest of the world.

Schinas admitted that there was frustration inside the Commission at the criticism of the bloc as the pandemic spread, because healthcare remains the responsibility of national governments in the EU.

“Many Europeans were asking for Europe to do things in areas where Europe does not have the legal competence,” he said.

“It was totally unfair that a part of the blame was shifted towards Brussels on things and areas and tactics and measures that were not related to the European Union,” he added.

The vice president backed the idea of an enhanced role for European healthcare institutions to prepare for future pandemics and health crises. This includes ‘adjusting’ the missions and status of institutions such as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, ECDC. He said it should become a more ‘proactive and standards-setting’ organisation.

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