Report of the Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development at the WHO EURO 71st Regional Committee: Presentation of recommendations and conclusions

Published on: 13 September 2021

13 September 2021, Geneva – The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) are pleased to contribute this statement to the 71st WHO Regional Committee meeting for Europe. EFPIA and IFPMA represent Europe’s and the world’s leading research-based biopharmaceutical companies, as well as national and regional industry associations, respectively.

COVID-19 has had profound health, social, and economic impacts across Europe and around the world. Coordinated, inclusive, and multi-stakeholder action is the only possible solution to mitigate the devastating consequences of this unprecedented global health emergency.

Innovative health industries remain at the forefront of the global effort to develop and manufacture tests, therapeutics, and vaccines to contain and defeat COVID-19. The existing IP framework has enabled the pharmaceutical industry to respond swiftly to the global crisis and develop several new vaccines with remarkable speed, by engaging in new collaborations to leverage both new approaches and existing molecules.

After more than 200 clinical trials and nearly 300 partnerships and collaborations among manufacturers worldwide, COVID-19 vaccine production has increased exponentially from zero to 5.8 billion doses by the end of August, 20% of which produced in Europe. In Europe 543,129,344 doses have been administered to citizens, equating to around 70% of the population. Globally, the industry is on target to deliver an astounding estimate of 12 billion doses by the end of 2021 – enough doses to vaccinate the world’s adult population. That said, COVID-19 vaccines are not equally reaching all priority populations worldwide. Access to COVID-19 related health products is a collective responsibility that calls for global solidarity and coordinated and collaborative action by public and private actors alike. The innovative vaccine manufacturers and biotech companies have supported fair and equitable access to vaccines from the outset of the pandemic, as full and active partners in the ACT-Accelerator.

In this spirit, these companies represented by seven industry bodies, announced in May 2021 the “Five steps to urgently advance COVID-19 vaccine equity.” They commit to working with governments and non-governmental organizations including COVAX, CEPI, and WTO to support stepping up dose sharing, continue efforts to optimize production, call out trade barriers to be eliminated, support country readiness, and continue driving innovation.

Looking to the future, it is important that the world uses the lessons we have learned during the COVID-19 crisis to make sure we are all better prepared and have the capacity to respond to emergent health threats. With the creation of a European Health Emergency and Preparedness Response Authority (HERA), Europe is stepping in the right direction.

We call upon governments to do their part and ensure adequate resources are dedicated to building strong, resilient, and sustainable healthcare systems, supported by WHO EURO and other multilateral organizations, and that health is valued as an investment to ensure growth and prosperity. This would include strengthening prevention, early detection and interception of disease, implementing integrated and patient-centered care models, utilizing digital health and health data to its full potential, and increasing access to innovation that improves people’s health and enhances the efficiency of health systems. We also urge governments to guarantee immediate and unhindered access to pathogens and associated information regarding any COVID-19 variants to support the development of new vaccines and treatments.

Industry is committed to delivering preparedness solutions and to contributing our expertise to relevant discussions with national, regional, and global public health, diseases control and regulatory agencies, and to contribute to resilient and sustainable health systems in partnership with all stakeholders. We look forward to playing a meaningful role in shaping the future so that we are stronger together for the next health emergency.