EU to provide COVID-19 vaccines for the Western Balkans
Today, the European Commission and Austria are finishing the arrangements for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to the Western Balkans. Soon, 651.000 BioNTech/Pfizer doses will be supplied, funded by the Commission with the support of Austria. The first delivery to all the countries in the region will take place in May, with regular deliveries until August.
Austria has helped the allocation of these vaccines through legal agreements with the producer and the Western Balkan partners. The Commission is funding the doses through the €70 million package adopted in December last year, to help cover the cost of vaccines, which was secured under the EU's advance purchase agreements for the Western Balkan partners. The overall distribution between the countries in the region will depend on the epidemiological needs, and medical workers and other vulnerable groups will be prioritised.
The EU has supported the Western Balkan partners from the beginning of the crisis, through a package of €3.3 billion to help dealing with both the health crisis and the socio-economic crisis. In October, the Commission presented a possible Economic and Investment Plan of up to €9 billion to stimulate the long-term recovery of the Western Balkans and convergence with the EU.
What else has the EU done?
- The European Commission helped raise nearly €16 billion since May 2020 through the Coronavirus Global Response. This instrument is the global effort to provide universal access to tests, treatments and vaccines against coronavirus, as well as for the worldwide recovery from the pandemic and its consequences.
- The COVAX Facility is the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a global cooperation to speed up the development, production, and equal access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. The EU has announced that it will provide €2.47 billion for COVAX, to help with its main goal of purchasing 2 billion doses by the end of 2021, 1.3 billion of which are for developing countries.
- The EU Vaccines Strategy is another effort to help tackle the pandemic. The EU has invested nearly €3 billion to pre-finance the production of vaccines through its Advanced Purchase Agreements with pharmaceutical companies. These agreements offer EU Member states the possibility to resell, donate or transfer options to partner countries.
Image © European Commission, 2021
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