The EU wants pharmaceuticals to rapidly make new vaccines available against new corona variants. To this end, the European Commission is once again dealing with pharmaceuticals in order to amend contracts or conclude new contracts. How much money that will cost is still unknown, but the budget is basically unlimited.
Last week, Commission President von der Leyen admitted that mistakes were made in the purchase of coronavaccines. Today‘s plans seem to be meant not to make the same mistakes again.
For example, the Commission wants to consult with pharmaceuticals how much money they need to adapt vaccines to new corona variants. The adapted vaccines must also be produced rapidly on a large scale.
For this purpose, new contracts with pharmaceuticals can be concluded. The fact that there are no limits to the budget available for this is a great contrast to the previous negotiations with pharmaceuticals. Then there was a strong focus on the price. Now Von der Leyen says: “Compared to the enormous economic costs, the investment is always justifiable.”
Public authorities liable
EMA should also be able to approve vaccines against the new corona variants more quickly. Now it takes three to four weeks, and it should be possible in a few days.
If necessary, the European Commission wishes to place full liability for adverse reactions to public authorities. Pharmaceuticals are less at risk and may be able to produce faster. That, too, is a major change in direction, because up to now the European Commission has insisted that the pharmaceuticals remain liable. Von der Leyen wants an explicit mandate from the EU Heads of Government to use this change of course.
Von der Leyen says nothing about patenting. In Brussels, more and more votes are going to force pharmaceuticals to release their vaccines through compulsory licenses, so that other manufacturers can also make the vaccines. The Commission does not want to go so far, but tries to tempt pharmaceuticals to work together and thus produce more vaccines faster. Money is also available for this.
Detecting new variants
Finally, the European Commission wants to examine more closely what new variants are in circulation in Europe. At the moment, only a very small part of all positive corona-virus tests are analyzed with which variant the patient is infected. This will have to be done for at least 5 percent of all tests, so that new variants are found early. The EU spends €75 million on this research.
For most people it takes a long time to actually get a vaccine. However, Von der Leyen warns not to look for a vaccine on the black market himself. “You have no idea if they are well cooled. You’re gonna inject a cure into a healthy person. I can only warn against these kinds of so-called vaccines.”