Vaccine development, purchasing and distribution in the EU needs to become more transparent, say MEPs.
In a resolution adopted with 458 in favour, 149 against and 86 abstentions, Parliament calls for legislation to make the process of researching, purchasing and distributing COVID-19 vaccines more transparent. This would enable MEPs to effectively scrutinise EU vaccine policies. At the same time, the Commission should be discussing these policies more openly with citizens.
Countering vaccine hesitancy and disinformation
To boost transparency, MEPs demand that the Commission discloses who negotiates vaccine purchases on its behalf. It should publish purchase agreements made with vaccine suppliers, including details of public investments and vaccine costs, and publicise any potential breaches of contract. MEPs say that more information could help counter vaccine hesitancy and disinformation, and pharmaceutical companies should also release extensive clinical trial data and reports.
Vaccinating the world
MEPs want the EU’s future vaccine contracts to make vaccines more available around the world as a global public good. The EU should help non-EU countries fight COVID-19 and speed up vaccination by overcoming production bottlenecks. Companies could, for example, transfer their technology (through the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, or C-TAP), and countries could contribute more to the COVAX scheme. The EU should also develop a global and public vaccine strategy that addresses equitable worldwide distribution.
After the vote, Petitions Committee Chair Dolors Montserrat (EPP, ES) said: “The EU Strategy for COVID-19 vaccines is the right approach to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. However, petitions show that some citizens are reluctant about vaccinations. This is why we need to be transparent about how COVID-19 vaccines are developed, purchased and distributed. For the strategy to be successful, the public must be provided with more information; this will increase their trust in vaccines and in the EU’s investment that brought us vaccines in record time, free for all EU citizens.”