Ratas: We need faster vaccine deliveries in cooperation with vaccine manufacturers

22.01.2021 | 17:02

Stenbock House, 22 January 2021 – On Thursday evening, at a video meeting with the heads of state and government of the European Union, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas discussed the current state of vaccination and the fight against the spread of COVID-19, including new strains.
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Ratas highlighted the European Commission’s good work to ensure equal access to vaccines for EU Member States. “This is evidence of European unity and a turning point in our fight against the virus,” Ratas stressed.

However, he expressed concerns about the lack of security of supply by vaccine manufacturers, which all European countries are currently facing. “It is important that vaccine manufacturers perform the contracts concluded with us and ensure stable deliveries. All Member States, including Estonia, need vaccine deliveries in sufficient quantities, on time, and on a regular basis to beat the coronavirus faster,” the prime minister said.

Ratas pointed out that specific objectives must be agreed within the EU to achieve widespread immunity. “This would help to speed up the vaccination process. However, our goals should be realistic and take into account the actual number of vaccine doses available,” the prime minister added.

Ratas recalled that, unfortunately, the European infection rate continues to increase and that the situation is complicated by new virus strains. The prime minister expressed support for Germany’s proposal to agree on common measures across the EU, for example on the duration of isolation.

Leaders of the Member States also touched on issues of restricting cross-border movement and travel. “Closing our borders is the last step anyone would want to take. It is certainly important for people, workers, and goods to be able to move freely and for the single market to function. We must avoid repeating the confusion that occurred in the spring of last year, which was caused by the restrictions on movement,” Ratas said.

Leaders of the Member States also discussed the development of a joint vaccination certificate solution. “I strongly support a joint digital solution that ensures the privacy and security of people’s health data,” Ratas said. “Estonia started working with the World Health Organization in October, as part of which we are leading a major project to create a digital vaccination certificate and a global data exchange layer for health data. Our proposal is that our trust framework, a data exchange layer based on X-tee, should also be used in the European Union. We will work closely with the European Commission to develop a joint solution for certificates by the end of the month,” Ratas said.

On the subject of global cooperation on vaccination, Ratas also highlighted the need to help neighbouring countries. “I call on the Commission to work on a common EU mechanism to support our partners in the Eastern Partnership countries and elsewhere near Europe,” Ratas said.

The European Medicines Agency has approved the vaccines of Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. A marketing authorisation for the AstraZeneca vaccine is expected at the end of the month. When it is granted, vaccine deliveries to Estonia should also increase significantly. As at Thursday evening, nearly 24,000 people had been vaccinated in Estonia.

Ratas also spoke about the detention of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and noted that if the Russian authorities do not immediately release him, the European Union must consider introducing further restrictive measures against Russia.

Photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stenbockimaja/albums/72157717982645413

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