dpa/GNA – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen held strategy talks with seven chief executives from pharmaceutical firms with EU Covid-19 vaccine supply contracts on Sunday, as the bloc faces immense pressure over its inoculation strategy.
“The pandemic highlighted that manufacturing capacities are a limiting factor. It is essential to address these challenges,” the EU executive chief said in a written statement sent out after the videoconference.
The meeting focused on pandemic preparedness, the new coronavirus variants and manufacturing, according to the press release.
The commission is to set up a new EU Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) in cooperation with the private sector to help anticipate threats and come up with responses, von der Leyen said, with a pilot scheme already being launched.
“Industry will be an important partner” in improving longer-term preparedness but also more immediate Covid-19 challenges, von der Leyen stressed.
Among those present was AstraZeneca, the British-Swedish firm currently locked into a showdown with the EU over substantial delivery delays of the first of the 300 million shots the bloc ordered.
Von der Leyen struck a conciliatory tone: “It was a very constructive meeting, with numerous practical suggestions.”
The heads of German firm BioNTech and its US partner Pfizer also took part, along with Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi, Moderna and Curevac.
The EU triggered a huge backlash by setting up a vaccine export control system this week. The 27 countries are trailing behind Israel, Britain and the United States in vaccinating their populations.