COVID-19 vaccines: MEPs quiz top officials on authorisation and contracts

  • EMA Executive Director Cooke was questioned on evaluation and authorisation of vaccines 
  • Commission Director-General for Health Gallina updated MEPs on advanced purchase of vaccines 
  • MEPs want to scrutinise the effectiveness of EU’s approval system and soundness of financial management 

On Tuesday, MEPs quizzed the European Commission and European Medicines Agency on latest developments concerning the authorisation and purchase of COVID-19 vaccines.

Emer Cooke, Executive Director of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) updated Members of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Committee on the latest developments regarding the evaluation and authorisation of COVID-19 vaccines in the EU.

During the debate, MEPs asked about the timeframe of future approvals of vaccines, the results of monitoring the long-term efficacy of existing vaccines, as well as the recent investigation linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine. MEPs expressed their concerns regarding the slow rollout in the member states, and quizzed the EMA on the status of approving new EU manufacturing sites and maximising the use of vaccines doses.

In her answers, Emer Cooke reassured MEPs that the EU has in place a continuous control system to ensure that vaccines are safe and effective. She underlined the importance of communicating transparently to the EU public and building trust in scientific advice. She also reiterated the EMA’s commitment to applying the same standards in the authorisation of vaccines, irrespective of their origin.

Transparency of contracts

Sandra Gallina, the Commission’s Director-General for Health and Food Safety (SANTE), was quizzed by Members of the Budgetary Control Committee (CONT) on the eight advanced purchase agreements (APA) on vaccines concluded by the Commission with pharmaceutical companies.

MEPs questioned Ms Gallina on whether pharmaceutical companies are delivering on the contracts, the possible advantages of patent liberalisation, distribution of doses, fake vaccines available in the market, and making the cost of vaccines transparent. MEPs also raised the controversial issue of the contract with AstraZeneca. The Director-General confirmed that the company has not even delivered a quarter of the vaccines agreed in advance with the EU. She also committed to use all means available to reverse this situation.

You can watch both debates again via the link below

ENVI debate with EMA – opening remarks

ENVI debate with EMA – Q&A

ENVI debate with EMA – closing remarks

CONT debate with European Commission – opening remarks

CONT debate with European Commission – Q&A

CONT debate with European Commission – closing remarks

ENVI & CONT debates summary