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EU Response to COVID: Vaccine distribution & fighting misinformation

The science is clear: life can not resume as normal until vaccines are developed and taken. While different state measures such as border control, lockdowns and internal movement restrictions help with containing the virus and flattening the curve, vaccines are really our only hope to help us resume normality. The impact of the lockdown has had a serious and severe shock on many industries across different sectors and though different government support measures have helped cushion the economic blow, the economy has been severely impacted globally. For that reason, I really do welcome the significant progress on research, clinical trials and overall development of COVID vaccines.

While not a whole lot of data has been released, I welcome the news that vaccines may be produced here in Ireland; Managing Director of Pfizer, Paul Reid, has suggested strong signs that experimental vaccines could be approved for emergency authorisation soon, and already 100 million doses manufactured.

We can, I think, anticipate a global scramble for these vaccines. The EU has secured a considerable amount with a particular aim to help identify vulnerable groups which should benefit from vaccination, but considering the EU population, we need to ensure a fair distribution of vaccines.

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs held a debate on the European Union’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which was joined by Gerard Kiely, head of the European Commission Representation in Ireland.

I asked Mr. Kiely the following two questions:

1. When the vaccines become available, how do you anticipate the vaccines being fairly distributed amongst Member States over the next 18-24 months?

2. Can you speak to the measures the EU is taking, in conjunction with online platforms, to ensure that COVID fact-checking is reaching wider audiences - this in relation to misinformation on Covid-19 being put into the public discourse?

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