Covid-19 response must be the start of an improved European cooperation on health

01/12/2020

pes health ministers

Participants at the today's videoconference of health ministers from the PES family

Approved Covid-19 vaccines must be rapidly distributed in a way which reaches all citizens and Member States, health ministers from the PES demanded today as they met by videoconference to discuss the Covid-19 response and the EU’s longer-term plan for the pharmaceutical industry.

The PES coordination meeting – which took place ahead of the Health Council tomorrow – welcomed the progress made on different vaccines and the ministers will follow closely the approval process by the European Medicines Agency.

PES meeting Chair and Swedish Minister for Health and Social Affairs, Lena Hallengren, said:

“Thankfully, the vaccines for this virus are looking very promising. But this means nothing if they do not reach everyone, and quickly. As socialists and democrats, we are focused on securing guarantees that no one will be left behind with these vaccines.

“A successful rollout across the EU will be vital to overcoming the virus in the coming months. Those who are vulnerable – the elderly, those with ill health, and people working in frontline occupations – must have quick access. At the same time, we need to stay alert and put in place recommendation and measures now to prevent future outbreaks.

“A coordinated Europe-wide approach to the vaccine must be the start of an improved European cooperation on health, one which secures high quality, effective, affordable and safe medicines for all.

"We are pleased that the pharmaceutical strategy presented by the Commission addresses the issue of securing the supply of medicines across the EU to avoid shortages, which is an issue that requires a joint EU response.“

The ministers exchanged on the impact the second wave of the virus was having on national healthcare systems, what measures will be needed ahead of the winder holiday period, and the ongoing vaccine trials. The ministers agreed that the Commission’s Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe must tackle the supply chain issues which have been highlighted by this pandemic.

The meeting was attended by:

  • Lena Hallengren - Chair of the PES Health Ministerial network, Minister of Health and Social Affairs - Sweden
  • Eila Mäkipää - State Secretary of Family Affairs and Social Services - Finland
  • Chris Fearne - Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Health - Malta
  • Marta Temido - Minister of Health - Portugal
  • Salvador Illa - Minister of Health - Spain
  • Helene Fritzon - PES Vice-President, Vice-President of S&D Group, Member of European Parliament 
  • Pedro Marques - S&D and PES Coordinator for the implementation of our progressive Commission Work Programme, Member of European Parliament
  • Yonnec Polet - Deputy Secretary General - PES