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Von der Leyen makes unreliable promises - The Commission needs a plan B

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The production and delivery of Covid19 vaccines are continuously faltering. Sandra Gallina, chief negotiator for vaccine purchases in the EU, today (1 February) briefed the budgetary committee in the European Parliament on this matter.

She was not able to substantiate Ursula von der Leyen's promise to have 70% of the EU’s population vaccinated by the end of the summer. Plan A is seemingly to trust vaccine producers and hope for more authorisations and accelerated production. But there is still no plan B.

Therefore, the European Union needs to step up its game and offset the patent protection, in order to allow other producers than the patent holders to support the production. Calling for Article 122 as suggested by Council President Charles Michel, would make this possible.

The budgetary spokesperson of the Greens/EFA in the European Parliament said: "Ursula von der Leyen‘s promise to provide vaccines for 70% of Europeans by the end of the summer is very ambitious. Unfortunately, the Commission was not able to give an answer to the question, how this objective could be reached, considering the ongoing problems with regard to vaccine production and delivery.

"On the contrary, Gallina made clear that there is no plan B. The Commission is still counting on promises made my vaccine producers. But it is not enough to just hope for more vaccines in the second quarter of this year.

"We as Greens support the suggestion made by Council President Michel to trigger Article 122 in order to offset patent protection, which could mobilise resources and capacities for vaccine production.

"We also continuously call for full transparency from the EU Commission and pharmaceutical companies. Only with transparency and democratic control by the European Parliament we will be able to gain trust again."

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Therapeutics Strategy - First rolling review of a new COVID-19 medicine

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The European Medicines Agency has today (7 May) started the rolling review of sotrovimab (VIR-7831), a monoclonal antibody developed for the treatment of COVID-19. The review follows hot on the heels of the EU COVID-19 Therapeutics Strategy presented yesterday and is a first step towards the Strategy's target of starting seven rolling reviews of COVID-19 therapeutics in 2021. The rolling review launched by EMA will assess sotrovimab's effectiveness in preventing hospitalization and death; safety and quality. A rolling review is quicker than a regular evaluation as data is reviewed as it comes in. Should the European Medicines Agency recommend authorising the treatment at the end of its review, the European Commission will move swiftly to authorize it. 

The EU Therapeutics Strategy supports the development and availability of much needed COVID-19 therapeutics and covers the lifecycle of medicines: from research, development and manufacturing to procurement and deployment. It is part of the strong European Health Union, in which all EU countries prepare and respond together to health crises and ensure the availability of affordable and innovative medical supplies – including the therapeutics needed to treat COVID-19. More details on the EU Therapeutics Strategy are available in a press release and factsheet.

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Kazakhstan to deliver humanitarian assistance to India

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Kazakhstan will provide humanitarian assistance to India due to the sharp deterioration of the epidemiological situation in this country, reported the Akorda Press, writes Zhanna Shayakhmetova.

President Tokayev instructed the government to provide humanitarian aid to India during the meeting with Prime Minister Askar Mamin on 7 May.

This was announced at the meeting of Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Prime Minister Askar Mamin on May 7.

President Tokayev instructed the government to dispatch 6 million medical masks, 400,000 respirators, 50,000 anti-plague suits, and 105 portable artificial lung ventilation devices made in Kazakhstan.

India observed a record daily rise in coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing total new cases for the week to 1.57 million, according to Reuters.

India is now the second most corona-affected country with the overall cases standing at 21.49 million. 

On May 4, Tokayev delivered a message to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to express “deep solidarity with the Indian nation over the devastating COVID-19 surge in their country.”

The President noted that Kazakhstan is ready “to unite efforts with our Indian friends to contain the spread of the pandemic and provide every possible assistance in the spirit of enduring friendship and mutual support between our states.”

Earlier, it was reported that Kazakhstan will provide humanitarian aid that consists of 10,000 tons of flour to Kyrgyzstan. 

“Guided by the principles of friendship, alliance and strategic partnership with Kyrgyzstan, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev decided to provide humanitarian assistance to the fraternal Kyrgyz people on behalf of the Kazakh people,”  President’s spokesperson Berik Uali wrote  on his Facebook on May 6. 

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India: EU mobilizes an initial €2.2 million in emergency funding for the vulnerable during COVID-19

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The Commission has announced that it will allocate an initial €2.2 million in emergency funding to respond to the drastic surge in COVID-19 cases in India. The funding will support the World Health Organization (WHO) for a 6-month case management of COVID-19 patients, as well as strengthening laboratory capacity for COVID-19 testing. Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič said: “We are providing additional EU support towards the fight against COVID-19 in India. This comes on top of the generous and swift assistance from EU member states that stepped up as part of Team Europe to offer critical supplies of oxygen, ventilators and medicines over the last few days. We stand ready to work with the WHO and other partners on the ground to jointly fight this battle at this difficult time – we are stronger together.”

Member states have already mobilized supplies of urgently needed oxygen, ventilators and medicines from Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sweden to India over the last week via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

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