The COVID-19 pandemic changed our lives more than a year ago. During this time, various measures have appeared to prevent infections and vaccines that can help us regain normalcy. Many dream that this summer can be more relaxed thanks to vaccination, but Emer Cooke, executive director of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) since November 16, 2020, does not dare to give any guarantee of this. “I can say what I would like, but I don’t know if it will happen: that we had the 70% of vaccine deployment to which the EU is committed, power reunite with my family in Ireland, London and Germany. Y that my staff return to the agency”, Has stated in an interview for The country.
In fact, it has not even ventured to assure that the crisis will be controlled in two years: “I would not dare to say what 2022 and 2023 will be like.” “In this pandemic We have learned that every time you think you have it solved, another challenge arises around the corner”, Has argued. Thus, although he acknowledges that “we are better than at the beginning,” he warns that there are still many challenges: “We have to be prepared for the variants, to adapt existing vaccines and search for vaccines in the future. We may need booster doses. We need therapies. Some work on different aspects of the disease, but we have not found the magic bullet. We still have a lot to understand. We have to keep adapting ”.
In the last weeks, the EMA has been widely criticized for its lack of coherence and leadership after the various published analyzes. “We have been criticized for being too fast and too slow. When you’re in the public eye, you’re criticized for anything, ”Cooke laments. For this reason, he assures that, in the end, the mission of the EMA is to do what it thinks is right based on science: “We cannot give a figure unless we know what it means. Sometimes that doesn’t happen without expert input, especially in these uncertain areas. If there was an easy answer, we would have found it. It does not always exist. It is about making people understand that getting the full answer takes time”.
Likewise, the expert has exempted the EMA from having responsibility for the constant changes in criteria that countries have had when administering the AstraZeneca vaccine: “In Europe there is one body that regulates vaccines for the Twenty-seven, but not one that decides how they are administered to different populations in each country. This supposes a challenge to present a message. Although I would love if what we said could be applied in all States, there are different national situations to keep in mind. I firmly believe that our decisions must be science-based and allow the other parties to make decisions based on facts ”.
With respect to rejection that has been created towards the AstraZeneca drug, the executive director of the EMA has clarified that “Vaccine indecision rates are quite diverse in Europe, regardless of the decisions of the EMA ”. “People have forgotten that vaccines mark a inflection point and can turn a disease around”, He points out. And he gives as an example what happened in Israel or the United Kingdom, “where they have had a great deployment of vaccination” and you can see the difference. It should be remembered that Israel has already removed the mandatory use of outdoor masks. “Even if you look at EuropeWe can already see the difference in terms of hospitalization and deaths in the oldest age group ”, he added.
Of course, he considers that the EMA itself and the different governments are responsible for getting the right message to citizens so that they are not afraid of getting vaccinated: “We all have a responsibility to give citizens the right to better information, one they can trust. If the correct message is not getting through, we have to understand how to give a more coherent one. But we have spoken with one voice about the AstraZeneca vaccine. ” In the same way, she confesses to being willing to be called to get vaccinated: “Let me be absolutely clear: we trust these vaccines and we will get them.”
Janssen delivery delay
Other vaccine with which it is having problems is that of Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, that has been paralyzed in the United States and Europe after detecting several related thrombi. “It is a good example that the european system works well. We already suspected that there could be a problem due to the similarities with the AstraZeneca vaccine, ”Cooke points out in this regard.
In this sense, he affirms that the EMA had already contacted, “proactively”, with the company and initiated an in-depth investigation into the possible problems that the drug could cause. For this reason, it positively values the delay in deliveries that have occurred in the European Union: “I think it is a good decision that the company has paused it. We can take a look at the information and data and see if there is additional warnings that should be included or transmitted to health professionals ”.