Establishment of legal basis for the coordination of vaccine procurement across the EU crucial aspect of agreement.
Ireland’s Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly, TD, tonight (6th May) welcomed the life saving agreement reached by the Irish Presidency on the Decision on Serious Cross Border Threats to Health. The Decision is a priority for the Irish Presidency in the Public Health field and forms part of the Presidency Programme.
The Decision will help Member States prepare for and protect citizens against possible future pandemics and environmental disasters. It strengthens risk preparedness and response planning, improves access to vaccines for Member States, and will result in clearer risk and crisis communication to the public and healthcare professionals.
A crucial aspect of the agreement is the establishment of a legal basis for the coordination of vaccine procurement across the EU. This will provide more equitable access to vaccines at fairer prices - a development particularly welcome for smaller Member States who simply could not afford the exorbitant prices charged during recent pandemics. The EU will also now be able to trigger pandemic vaccine production itself, ultimately leading to faster vaccination in an emergency.
In welcoming the agreement Minister Reilly said “This is a vital development for the health of EU citizens. We know that pandemics do not respect borders. It is also well known that a chain is only as strong as the weakest link. This Decision will see Member States join forces in order to prepare for and act against future public health threats.” The agreement is timely particularly given the recent outbreak of avian influenza A(H7N9) virus in China.
Agreement to improve the European Union health security framework was secured by the Irish Presidency following three months of intensive negotiations with the European Parliament. It will now go before the Committee of Permanent Representatives for final approval.