The European Commission and Austria Secure COVID-19 Vaccines for the Western Balkans



The European Commission and Austria are announcing today the conclusion of agreements for the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines for the Western Balkans. The 651,000 BioNTech/Pfizer doses are funded by the European Commission and will be shared with the facilitation of Austria. The first delivery to all the partners in the region is due in May, with regular tranches to continue until August.


The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “It is crucial to speed up the vaccination campaigns everywhere. I am happy to announce that we have secured doses to help vaccinate health care workers and other vulnerable groups in the Western Balkans. The European Union stands by our partners in the region, who have been looking to us for support. I want to thank Austria for facilitating this transfer, showing its firm commitment and solidarity with the Western Balkans.”


Austrian Foreign Minister, Alexander Schallenberg, added: “It is a top priority to make COVID-19 vaccines rapidly and comprehensively available to people across Europe. Against this backdrop, supporting the Western Balkans to obtain vaccines is an act of European solidarity and an investment in the health and security of the whole region. After all, blank spots on the vaccination map, wherever they may be, pose a danger to all of us. No one is safe until everyone is safe.”


Austria has facilitated the sharing of these vaccines through legal arrangements with the producer and the Western Balkan partners. The doses are funded from the €70 million package adopted by the Commission in December 2020 to help cover the cost of vaccines, secured under the EU's advance purchase agreements for the Western Balkan partners. The overall distribution between countries will be based on the epidemiological needs, prioritising in first instance medical workers and other vulnerable groups.


From the start of the crisis, together with its Member States, the EU has been committed to equitable distribution and access to vaccines for everyone, everywhere. ECOPNET (European Cooperation & Partnership Network) appreciates the EU's generous contributions to support Western Balkans countries by providing medical emergency response – such as equipment, ambulances, COVID tests, ventilators, ICU beds as well as vaccines during the pandemic.

Background


The European Commission is committed to ensuring that everyone who needs a vaccine gets it, anywhere in the world. This is why it immediately responded to the WHO's call for action and has helped raise almost €16 billion since 4 May 2020 under the Coronavirus Global Response, the global action for universal access to tests, treatments and vaccines against coronavirus and for the global recovery.


The COVAX Facility is the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. So far €2.47 billion have been announced by the EU and the EU Member States for COVAX. COVAX aims to purchase 2 billion doses by the end of 2021, including over 1.3 billion for developing countries.



Source: European Commission Press Corner