The Covid-19 pandemic is currently being driven mainly by the unvaccinated and the growing number of cases is, in turn, increasing the “vaccination hesitation”, warned this Monday the European Commissioner for Health in the European Parliament.
Speaking at a debate in the Strasbourg hemicycle on Covid-19, Commissioner Stella Kyriakides began by assuming that “the entire European Union” is now faced with “a worryingly growing number of cases” and underlined that “I would like to start by sending a message very clear about the role of vaccines, because the evidence is clear.”
“Vaccination works and remains the most effective tool we have to keep people safe. There is no doubt that our vaccines are effective against severe forms of the disease. […] and even with the dominant Delta variant, with its greater transmissibility and severity, deaths continue to be avoided thanks to effective vaccines authorized for use in the EU”, he argued, stressing that this is supported “by all the scientific evidence”.
The European Commissioner for Health then noted that, currently, “the pandemic is mainly driven by the unvaccinated, and the growing numbers are unfortunately fueling vaccine hesitation”, and argued that it is necessary to “take a firm stand”, fighting misinformation ( or “fake news”) and raising awareness that “vaccination remains a key weapon” in the “arsenal” against the pandemic.
The commissioner admitted that, “at the same time, until sufficiently high vaccination rates have been achieved and the situation is under control, relevant non-pharmaceutical interventions must remain in place where necessary”, and noted that “many states -members have already started to reintroduce certain restrictive measures, often relying on the EU’s Covid-19 digital certificate to allow secure access to public areas.”
Defending the EU certificate – which, he argued, is “the largest interoperable Covid-19 digital certificate system in the world” – Kyriakides emphasized the need to maintain coordination among the 27 and “avoid fragmentation” in the face of the new wave , and added that the European Commission is finalizing an update of the recommendations related to free movement within the EU.
“The proposal, to be adopted this week, will promote and recognize the important role of the EU Covid-19 digital certificate that travelers currently carry. We will also update the recommendation on travel to the EU from around the world,” he said.
The commissioner concluded her intervention by demanding more powers at European level in the area of Health, commenting that Brussels cannot impose coordination in an area in which competences are mostly vested in the Member States.
“In the area of Health, it doesn’t take two to tango, it takes 27,” he said.
In the context of the European Health Union, we proposed a stronger Health Security Committee. This body has played a crucial role in this pandemic, but it needs to be strengthened to better support a common response at EU level and better coordination of risk communication even further.
“We need to reach a political agreement on all the proposals around the European Health Union as soon as possible. This is the surest way to build a better prepared, more resilient and more reactive Union in the face of future crises”, he declared. .