The European Commission is making 220 million euros available for the transfer of corona patients from countries where hospitals can no longer handle the influx. President Ursula von der Leyen said this after a video corona summit with EU leaders.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, on the other hand, urged her EU colleagues not to fall into the impetus of the first corona wave and to close the borders again. It is essential that goods, including medical equipment and medicines, and individuals including doctors and Covid-19 patients, can continue to circulate freely throughout the European Union. According to EU President Charles Michel, there is broad agreement on this among EU leaders, he said after the corona summit.
It was also agreed at the virtual EU summit that when a vaccine comes onto the European market, it must be accessible to all countries at the same time. “We have to anticipate when one or more vaccines will be available,” said Michel. According to him, the agreed arrangement must guarantee a fair distribution between the member states. Agreement should also be reached on the population groups that will have priority access to the vaccine. An exchange of views about this already took place on Thursday evening, which was experienced as positive, both Michel and Von der Leyen assured.
The Commission has now concluded pre-purchase contracts for a vaccine with three pharmaceutical companies. Through these contracts, Europe ensures that it receives a certain number of doses when the vaccine developed has successfully passed all phases of clinical trials and has been shown to be safe and effective to be marketed. Similar contracts are expected to be signed with three other companies shortly, and talks are also underway with a seventh pharmaceutical group.
‘Relaxed too quickly’
Another agreement that was made at the EU summit on Thursday is to bring national experts together on a ‘European platform’ so that they can agree on, for example, the desired duration of quarantine and the mutual recognition of (negative) tests. The need to share data ‘in real time’ was also discussed. For example, due to a lack of data from France and Austria, the two countries could not be ‘colored’ this week on the EU country map to indicate how risky the corona virus is there.
When asked by a journalist whether it was wrong to allow tourist travel last summer, Von der Leyen replied that after the lockdown in the spring, some measures may have been relaxed too quickly. “We learned the following: After the first wave weakened, we relaxed measures a bit in the summer, probably too soon, and it’s not just about travel,” said the CDU politician.
According to the EU committee chair, several variables are crucial to keep the virus under control. ‘And we must also always keep in mind that we will have to fight the virus and limit its spread until sufficient immunity has been built up among the population through vaccination. That means we have to be very careful when it comes to withdrawing measures, ‘she concluded.
Finally, according to Michel and Von der Leyen, testing and tracing infected people are the ‘key’ to getting the virus under control as long as there is no vaccine. Tracing apps now exist or are under development in 22 Member States. In November they must be linked together so that the system also works across borders.