THE DELEGATION of the European Union (EU) to TT has defended its contribution to the fight against covid19, particularly here and in low and middle-income countries, saying the EU approved the export of 113.5 million doses of vaccines in under three months.
On Tuesday, the delegation responded to a recent letter to the editor of this newspaper titled Shame on EU, UK, Canada and the US, whose writer said China and India were the only countries that have tried to help the Caribbean regarding vaccine exports.
Acting head of delegation Sanjin Soldatic denied this, saying within weeks of the beginning of the pandemic, the EU signed a €8 million (US$9.7 million) programme to support Caribbean countries in their outbreak-control operations through the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), with an immediate disbursement of almost €5.5 million.
Soldatic said the EU has so far exported more doses worldwide than had been administered internally.
"Team Europe (EU & its 27 member states together), with €2.2 billion, is the largest contributor to Covax," he said.
"Under Covax, team Europe will ensure vaccine delivery, to 92 low and middle-income countries covered by the Covax facility and the export of vaccines purchased and/or delivered not only through Covax but also through Unicef and PAHO with intended destinations in any other Covax participating country."
Soldatic said in spite of "continuing and unevenly distributed shortfalls in production globally, the EU is the only OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ) producer that continues to export vaccines, including to countries that have production capacities of their own but have found ways to restrict exports; whose epidemiological situation is less severe than the EU's; and that are further advanced in the vaccination of their citizens."
The OECD is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 37 member countries, most of which are in Europe, but also include major world economies in Japan, the US, Israel, Australia, South Korea and others.
"For the EU, respect of the pacta sunt servanda (agreements must be kept) principle, a fundamental principle of law is of paramount importance, and therefore even in these challenging times it does not give up adhering to the basic principles of law," Soldatic said.
He said since the local outbreak of covid19 in March last year , the EU has also "responded and supported the health sectors, the infrastructure capacity, the medical equipment worldwide, including the Caribbean."
The EU's €8 million programme for Caribbean, through CARPHA, includes the provision of protection material, test reagents, lab materials, treatment/vaccines, as well as support to increase the health workforce and public awareness.
Soldatic said the EU also provided direct budget support which allowed governments to deliver essential services and loan guarantees to boost economic activity and safeguard livelihoods.
"Specifically concerning TT the EU has signed a grant contract with TT’s Red Cross Society, in support of migrants and refugees.
"The EU has been contributing to socio-economic recovery through a new innovation programme (worth €8 million) geared towards supporting a competitive and innovative economy in TT.
Soldatic referenced a statement from 27 leaders after the last European Council last months, which read, "The (EU) will continue to strengthen its global response to the pandemic. Work on setting up a vaccine-sharing mechanism must be taken forward rapidly so as to complement and support Covax’s leading role in ensuring universal access to, and deployment of, vaccines."
He said, "The EU remains fully committed to international solidarity and strongly supports the principle that any measures deemed necessary to prevent or relieve critical shortages are implemented in a manner that is targeted, transparent, proportionate, temporary and consistent with WTO (World Trade Organisation) obligations."