Today marks the first pan-EU online matchmaking event, organised to mobilise Europe’s full potential for the production of COVID-19 vaccines.
This health crisis is a once-in-a-generation battle, and European companies are on the frontline.
We can already be very proud of our scientific achievement: we have developed vaccines and made them available in 9 months, when it usually takes 5 to 10 years. This is unprecedented, and it would not have been possible without Europe.
Our objective now is to produce and deliver vaccines for all citizens in the European Union and beyond.
So far, the EU has secured 2.6 billion doses. We are the continent with the biggest portfolio of safe vaccines. Four have already been authorised and a fifth one hopefully soon.
It is also our duty to reach out to the rest of the world, as part of our Coronavirus Global Response. "Team Europe" is one of the lead contributors to COVAX. We want to ensure universal access to vaccines everywhere and for everyone.
And, importantly, we need to stay ahead of the curve as new COVID variants emerge.
Ramping up capacity
The biggest challenge that we face is to ramp up production capacity to ensure the smooth and speedy roll-out of our current and future vaccine portfolio.
This ramp-up is unprecedented: we are moving from 14 million doses produced in January to an annual production capacity of 2 to 3 billion doses by the end of the year.
Naturally, this comes with ups and downs. That is why the Task Force for Industrial Scale-up, which I am leading, closely monitors bottlenecks across the entire production and supply chain.
The Task Force is there to help companies find solutions for those bottlenecks. But troubleshooting is not enough.
We need to establish new production capacity AND –even more importantly– we need to make better use of existing capacity all around Europe.
The Task Force has conducted a mapping of available capacity with contributions from Member States and industry.
The results are clear: we have in Europe a huge untapped potential to increase production capacity. This is reflected in the large number of companies that expressed an interest in today’s event.
I welcome the active participation of the vaccine manufacturers, with whom the EU has concluded APAs, and encourage them to make optimal use of the matchmaking opportunities.
Moreover, I am particularly pleased to see so many participants from all parts of the supply chain: from contract manufacturers to ingredient suppliers and from producers of chromatography systems to distributors.
Each part of the supply chain is equally important to ensure that we reach our common goals.
Towards the HERA Incubator
Today is all about fostering new collaboration opportunities to address the bottlenecks that are hindering vaccine production in Europe.
I hope and trust that successful partnerships will stem from today’s event.
However, let me be clear: our joint efforts do not stop here.
This is only a first step in improving Europe’s preparedness for health emergencies.
The Commission announced the launch of the HERA Incubator, serving as a pilot for the European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority – HERA.
A network of ‘ever-warm’ vaccine production capacities
Industrial capacity is a key pillar of this HERA Incubator. As part of this, the Commission will create a network of ‘ever-warm’ vaccine production capacities, covering different technologies.
I am confident that the connections that European companies will make today will also prove relevant for future opportunities under the HERA Incubator.
I will soon share with you the concrete outcome.
This speech is also available in video : https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/preview/https:%2F%2Feuc-vod.fl.freecaster.net%2F12%2F203772%2FLR_I203772EN1W.mp4