Coronavirus vaccine nationalism puts lives at risk, says EU chief

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The President of the European Commission, Ursula Von Der Leyen, delivers her first State of the Union speech.

Brussels:

The president of the European Commission urged EU members to build a stronger health union on Wednesday, promising a biomedical research agency and a world summit.

In her first annual State of the European Union address, Ursula von der Leyen said the coronavirus pandemic had underscored the need for closer cooperation, stressing that people were “still suffering”.

“For me, it is very clear – we have to build a stronger European Health Union,” she said. “And we need to strengthen our crisis preparedness and our management of cross-border health threats.”

Speaking to MEPs in the European Parliament, Ms von der Leyen said her committee would try to strengthen the European Medicines Agency and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

And she announced the creation of a new advanced biomedical research and development agency called BARDA.

She said she would work with Italy during her presidency of the G20 – a group of the richest countries in the world – to convene a global health summit next year to share lessons from the coronavirus crisis.

“It will show Europeans that our Union is there to protect everyone,” she said.

Health policy remains the responsibility of EU member states, and while Brussels has tried to coordinate the EU’s response to the epidemic, national lockdowns and border rules have varied considerably.

Von der Leyen, a doctor by training, also warned countries not to act selfishly when using vaccines, which are widely seen as the solution to ending the crisis.

“Vaccine nationalism puts lives at risk. Vaccine cooperation saves them,” she said.

She also called for a reformed and strengthened World Health Organization “so that we can better prepare” for future pandemics.

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)

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