'Could be 2022' before everyone in Europe has access to Covid-19 vaccine

'Could be 2022' before everyone in Europe has access to Covid-19 vaccine

Asked about reports suggesting EU officials had warned that it could be 2022 before a Covid-19 vaccine would be available to all in the EU, Gerard Kiely said it was "not a question of the Commission knowing something, that the vaccine is going to be delayed or anything".

Europe has almost 4 trillion euro of funding "firepower" to deal with the fallout of Covid-19, the head of the European Commission Representation in Ireland has said.

Gerard Kiely told a parliamentary committee that almost a quarter of the EU's GDP has been allocated to deal with economic and medical issues created by the pandemic.

"If you add up everything that has been done at EU and member state level in relation to Covid - between state aid, monetary easing, the funds, the EU budget - there's a firepower of something of the order of 3.5 trillion euro to 4 trillion euro on the table in relation to dealing with Covid, dealing with the economic and medical fallout from Covid," he said.

"Between 20% and 25% of the EU's GDP has been put on the table in terms of firepower and most of that money is still a promise, it hasn't actually gone into the system. It will be going into the system in the future which will inevitably have a big impact."

Asked about reports suggesting EU officials had warned that it could be 2022 before a Covid-19 vaccine would be available to all in the EU, Gerard Kiely said it was "not a question of the Commission knowing something, that the vaccine is going to be delayed or anything".

"It is just the reality that if the vaccines - and there are very positive signs at the moment - are given the all clear in the next weeks it is going to take a long time to get up to speed in terms of getting up to speed in producing the billions of doses that are needed," the head of the European Commission Representation in Ireland told the EU affairs committee examining the EU response to Covid-19.

He added it was "just a statement of fact" that it could be 2022 before everyone in Europe may have access to a vaccine.

"If someone made a comment about 2022 it's just a statement of fact," he said. "I don't think anyone is disrupting the fact that, if and when, a vaccine is available, it is going to be coming piecemeal.

"Member states are going to have to decide who is the priority - frontline workers, people with underlying problems."

Mr Kiely also said the European Commission had invested hundreds of millions of euro with a number of companies developing vaccines to ensure the availability of almost 800 million doses of vaccines for EU citizens.

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