Portugal: Vaccines must be shared with Africa – Costa

Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa, has said during a new video conference of European Union leaders dedicated to the fight against Covid-19 he wants faster jabs and the sharing of vaccines, especially with Africa.

“On the first day of the European Council, I stressed the importance of accelerating vaccination. Vaccine distribution contracts must be fulfilled, and we need to boost production, distribution and authorisation capacity for vaccines in the EU,” he said on Thursday, in the first of three posts on Twitter about the summit.

Costs added that international solidarity in sharing vaccines, especially with Africa, is essential to eradicate the virus.

Finally, Costa also considered it vital to ensure the regular functioning of the internal market through coordinated action at borders and by guaranteeing green corridors and the rights of cross-border workers.

The prime minister, who will only give statements to the press on the second day of work at the European Council – a virtual summit dedicated to security and defence policy issues, and the southern neighbourhood – attended the leaders’ meeting from the Centro Cultural de Belém in Lisbon, headquarters of the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the EU.

In conclusions adopted on Thursday by EU leaders on the Covid-19 pandemic, the 27 accept that the epidemiological situation remains serious and new variants pose additional challenges, so strict restrictions must be maintained while stepping up efforts to boost the supply of vaccines.

“Vaccination is underway in all member states and, thanks to our vaccine strategy, everyone has access to vaccines. Nevertheless, we urgently need to accelerate the authorisation, production and distribution of vaccines, as well as the actual jabs. We also need to strengthen our surveillance and detection capacity to identify variants as early as possible to control their spread,” according to the adopted conclusions.

The European Council then said it supports further efforts by the Commission to work with industry and member states to increase current vaccine production capacity and adapt vaccines to new variants as necessary.

“We also support the Commission’s ongoing efforts to speed up the availability of raw materials, facilitate agreements between manufacturers across supply chains, examine existing facilities to help increase production in the EU and strengthen research and development efforts,” the leaders added.

The 27 also reaffirm their solidarity with third countries and say they are committed to improving access to vaccines for priority groups in neighbouring countries and beyond.