The Minister for Health, Marta Temido, presided over an informal video conference with European Union Health Ministers on 13 January.
Also taking part in the meeting, which was based in the headquarters of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Centro Cultural de Belém, Lisbon, were the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, as well as representatives of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Medicines Agency.
At the end of the meeting, Minister Marta Temido and Commissioner Stella Kyriakides held a joint press conference. The Minister for Health began by underlining the importance of the meeting, which resulted in the sharing of opinions on the COVID-19 vaccination process, currently underway in all the Member States.
The vaccines and the new variant of SARS-COV-2
Marta Temido showed support for the European Commission in terms of all the efforts made and work that has been done in the vaccination area. She also revealed that the ministers want to contribute to increasing vaccine production capacity and to reinforcing joint negotiation for the acquisition of more doses under the negotiating conditions already agreed on.
There was also unanimous recognition by all the countries of the role of and their support for the European Medicines Agency and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The ministers further identified the need to continue sharing data and monitoring the vaccination process in each one of the Member States in order to maintain European citizens' trust in the process.
At the press conference, Minister Marta Temido underlined the concerns shared by the Health Ministers regarding the increase in the number of cases of the new variant of SARS-COV-2 and reinforced the joint appeal to maintaining health and safety measures while the vaccination process is ongoing.
“It's not the vaccines that save lives, but rather the entire vaccination process”
The European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety also highlighted the importance of this meeting, organised by Minister Marta Temido under the scope of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Stella Kyriakides said that everybody agreed that this is probably the most challenging year in memory in terms of public health. However, with the vaccination process underway in all the Member States, the European Commissioner believes that we now have the tools to progressively put an end to this pandemic.
Recalling that the European Commission has secured the largest portfolio of vaccines in the world, through the Vaccine Strategy, the Commissioner revealed that the European Medicines Agency may approve the AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of January.
The Commissioner also thanked Minister Marta Temido for organising the informal meeting, expressing her wish for them to continue working together towards a healthier and safer Europe.