The Prime Ministers of Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark and Greece have sent a joint letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urging her for timely talks with vaccine producers to avoid the problems encountered with AstraZeneca.
The four mention in their letter the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as a “potential game changer” but point out potential problems as it may need to be first shipped to the US.
The most important thing, say the four premiers, is not to waste any further time in bringing vaccination to as many people as possible as quickly as possible.
The full text of the letter follows:
Athens, Copenhagen, Prague, Vienna – 05 February 2021
We are very pleased that there is now a united, strong pressure on the vaccine producers. A special thanks to you for your personal engagement and for sending such a strong message to Astra-Zeneca about their unacceptable behavior. It seems they now understand the gravity of the situation.
As you rightly pointed out in your letter together with the President of the Council Mr. António Costa, we have a broad range of challenges at hand regarding the supply of vaccines. On the basis of our experiences so far, we believe it is important to engage in an early dialogue with the producers of upcoming vaccines to mitigate potential problems before they arise. As an example, the upcoming vaccine from Johnson & Johnson may be a potential game changer due to easier storage and transport as well as requirement of only one dose. However, we have been informed about the fact that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine apparently needs to be shipped to the US for filling and finish. If this could risk EU access to the vaccines, we should consider addressing the issue already now with a view to finding solutions with the company in order to safeguard European supply. It is our understanding that capacity is available within the EU. In view of the importance attached to these issues, we would encourage an early dialogue at the highest levels.
Time is of the essence. Therefore, we need to keep up the speed in contract negotiations with all new promising candidates, such as for instance Novavax who have just announced high efficacy of their vaccine, or Valneva, with whom the Commission has also concluded exploratory talks. And needless to say, approval of all new vaccines will need to be as swift as possible while respecting necessary health requirements.
We were also pleased to learn that the Commission has now in principle recognized that there could be a way forward for pre-authorization distribution. It is important that no time is lost, so the rollout of vaccines can take place as fast as possible. Hopefully, this can be applied to new vaccines such as Johnson & Johnson.
We look forward to continuing the fruitful cooperation with you in the coming weeks and months that will be crucial for us all.
Federal Chancellor of the Republic of Austria
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic
Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Denmark
Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic