the European Union places its first bulk orders for vaccines

“This will be a considerable asset to deal earlier and better with future health threats”, said the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on September 15, 2021. The next day, the European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) was born and a pillar of the “ Health Europe”, which appeared to be a necessity in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, was posed. Operational since the beginning of 2022, this new agency, created within the Commission and endowed with a budget of 6 billion euros for five years, is already called upon to prove itself, while monkeypox spread over the Old Continent.

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Based on the model of the American Barda (Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority), whose effectiveness against Covid-19 had been envied by the Twenty-Seven, HERA must anticipate health crises and allow action to be taken at European level to guard against it. It is a question of perpetuating the reflexes adopted on the job to confront the coronavirus together, to make joint purchases of vaccines and to share them equitably. This solidarity exercise was the pride of the European Union (EU), having made it possible to deliver 1.7 billion doses to European citizens, not without difficulty, in particular due to the scale of the crisis and the Member States are accustomed to managing health exclusively at national level.

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Since June, HERA has therefore entered into two contracts to buy around 160,000 doses of the third-generation monkeypox vaccine, named Jynneos, from the Danish company Bavarian Nordic, the only one to manufacture it. In the case of anti-Covid-19 vaccines, if the Commission was responsible for negotiating the contracts, the bill was settled by the Twenty-Seven. This time, the European executive financed the purchase of the doses through the Community budget, more precisely through the EU4Health programme, and donated them to the 26 European countries (24 Member States, plus Iceland and Norway) who have expressed the wish to do so. This first “demonstrates the rapid and collective response that a European Health Union can provide”said Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health, on June 14.

“Limited manufacturing capacity”

More than 60,000 doses have already reached several Member States, starting with Spain which, in June, was the country most affected by the epidemic. The remainder of the 160,000 doses are expected to be delivered over the coming days and weeks. If HERA boasts of an initial success, these figures may seem derisory to protect 450 million Europeans. “It is important to understand the market conditions surrounding this purchase”defends a Commission source. “This vaccine is the only one available on the market. It is produced by a single company, with limited manufacturing capacity and pre-existing contractual obligations. »

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