Coronavirus: European Commission steps up production and distribution of medical equipment
Tuesday, 24 March 2020
With the surge of infected people in Europe and the rest of the world there is not enough protective equipment and ventilators. Every country is trying to speed up production and get hold of what is available on the market.
WHO is doing its best to increase the global supply of equipment. China and Russia are sending equipment and expert teams to some EU member states. European solidarity is short in supply.
In a situation where coordination of measures on national level has been late and insufficient, the Commission announced yesterday that it will establish a rescue stockpile of equipment, both personal protective equipment (PPE) and respirators, to be distributed to member states on a need basis.
At the Commission’s video press briefing yesterday (23 March) in Brussels, The Brussels Times asked what the Commission is doing right now to step up cooperation, and not only coordination, between the member states to import and produce more equipment, and ensure that they are distributed fairly among the member states.
Eric Mamer, the chief spokesperson of the Commission, replied that it is a key topic and that the Commission is working hard on it. The situation was assessed at last week’s video-conference with the industry ministers.
The Commission has taken a number of measures to facilitate the production of medical equipment for tackling the coronavirus crisis and is encouraging European manufacturers to consider alternative ways of production.
But more importantly, from the point of view of solidarity, is that the Commission has decided to establish a rescue stockpile of equipment, including respirators. The stockpile will be hosted by a member state which will be responsible for the procuring of equipment.
The Commission will finance 90 % of the stockpile and its emergency response centre will manage the distribution of equipment to ensure that it goes where it is needed the most.