Preparing the cold chain — crucial to COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Preparing the cold chain — crucial to COVID-19 vaccine distribution

On 10 November 2020, Spanish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) María Soraya Rodríguez Ramos of the Renew Europe Group, posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:

“Yet further challenges lie ahead in the race to find a COVID-19 vaccine, namely how to distribute it once we have one and how to maintain a cold chain to ensure that it is stored correctly. All candidate COVID-19 vaccines to date require storage and transport at temperatures ranging from 2ºC to -70ºC. This calls for investment strategies in logistics, refrigeration and transport infrastructure, which many Member States are lacking. Experts warn that this could lead to the vaccine being delayed.

1. How will the Commission ensure that Member States plan and prepare the necessary infrastructure to maintain the cold chain?

2. Will the Commission issue recommendations to help countries increase their storage capacities?

3. How does the Commission intend to make available EU instruments, such as the Civil Protection Mechanism, which provide logistics and transport infrastructure?”

On 16 February 2021, Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “The Commission is working with Member States to ensure rollout of safe and effective vaccines as soon as available. To support Member States, on 15 October 2020, the Commission adopted a communication on preparedness for COVID-19 vaccination strategies and vaccine deployment.

While the deployment of vaccination strategies is a national competence, the communication sets out recommendations on key issues that Member States should focus on, such as logistics, the supply chain, and transportation.

On 2 December 2020, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published an ‘Overview of current EU/European Economic Area and United Kingdom deployment and vaccination plans for COVID-19 vaccines’.

Based on this document and the outcome of the discussions in the Scientific Advice Platform, the Commission will decide if further guidance on national vaccination plans for COVID-19 is necessary. Many Member States plan to use existing vaccination services for COVID-19 vaccination, and many also plan to stockpile equipment via national or EU joint procurement procedures.

The Commission can support Member States in this process, putting all Union instruments with logistical and transport capabilities, such as the Union Civil Protection Mechanism, at their disposal. Under the Commission’s proposal, the Mechanism will provide national civil protection authorities with targeted support to further improve prevention, preparedness and reaction to large-scale emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic and to reinforce transport and logistical resources.”


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