With this new €35 million assistance package the EU seeks to substantially increase access to vaccines in the Eastern Partnership region amid the global vaccine shortage, facilitating the vaccine sharing by the EU Member States and reimbursing the cost. This assistance complements the EU’s support to the COVAX initiative, the world’s facility to ensure fair and universal access to COVID-19 vaccines, and work towards an equitable and transparent distribution of vaccines over the Eastern Partner countries.
It comes in addition to the first package of support worth €40 million, launched in February to immediately strengthen preparedness and local readiness for safe and effective vaccination of the population, in partnership with the World Health Organization. EU support included training of health managers and medical staff involved in the vaccination campaign, key logistical support for the delivery and handling of the vaccines and supplies, vaccination data and safety monitoring, communication and community engagement, as well as support for the development of a digital COVID certificate.
Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi said: “The devastating COVID-19 pandemic has put an unprecedented strain on people, health systems and economies worldwide. The Eastern Partnership is unfortunately no exception. The EU is determined to support our Eastern neighbours to speed up vaccination as this will be decisive for ending the pandemic and launching the socio-economic recovery of the region. We care for our partners.”
Today’s newly adopted programme is part of Team Europe’s global COVID-19 response and builds on the joint efforts with the Member States and the EU cooperation with the WHO to date. It further builds on the first regional action to address the COVID-19 pandemic in the Eastern Partnership last year when the EU and WHO joined forces and launched the €35 million Solidarity for Health Initiative in the Eastern Partnership. The action provided substantial medical supplies across the region, including over 11 million items of personal protective equipment, 12,000 lab kits, over 1,500 ventilators, oxygen concentrators and pulse oximeters, and over 20,000 PCR testing kits.
The newly adopted package will support effective deployment of vaccines received by the partner countries directly through the EU Vaccine Sharing Mechanism and indirectly through COVAX and direct procurement from producers of COVID-19 vaccines.
Team Europe is one of the lead contributors to COVAX with close to €3 billion for the COVAX Facility, which remains the key global vehicle to ensure fair and equitable access to these vaccines and delivers on international vaccine solidarity.
To complement COVAX’s efforts, Team Europe is aiming to donate at least 200 million doses to partner countries before the end of the year. A majority is expected to be delivered through COVAX.