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Merkel Says Int'l Supply Chain 'vulnerable'; Urges Drug Makers To Make EU Self-sufficient

"When too few alternative suppliers are available, Germany and Europe must strengthen their strategic drug independence," Angela Merkel said.

Angela Merkel

(Image Credit: Bundesregierung/german federal government)

Drugmakers must work towards making Germany and Europe self-sufficient in terms of vaccine production as there are international setbacks in procuring foreign supplies that make EU less resilient, according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She added, however, that the manufacturing industry has held up very well in spite of the crisis. “The most important weapon in the fight against COVID-19 is vaccination”, said the Chancellor. The continued that testing helps build a bridge until the impact of vaccinations is felt, at the same time, vaccinations are needed in order to fight the pandemic.

There’s a need to rapidly raise vaccine production in Germany and Europe, Merkel said, indicating the need for self sufficiency in drug sector. Her remarks came as Marburg started operation at a new plant to produce the BioNTech vaccine. German vaccine-maker IDT Biologika and AstraZeneca announced that it was expanding production capacity for the British-Swedish company's jabs [nearly 10 million doses] by establishing a new plant in German town of Dessau by 2022. “The pandemic has shown us how vulnerable international supply chains are,” Germany’s leader said, adding that when too few alternative suppliers are available, Germany and Europe must strengthen their strategic drug independence.

Merkel had also earlier insisted that EU must develop "self-sufficiency" in manufacturing key medicine products such as the masks. “This market is presently installed in Asia, we need a certain self-sufficiency,” the German leader told a press conference in Berlin. 

Manufacturing to rise by 8%

German Chancellor stressed that developing EU’s own capacities and sovereignty means that the bloc would also be more resilient when international supply chains are hit. Germany and Europe are working in a number of areas to become more independent, including supplies of raw materials, technology for critical infrastructure and digitalisation, she added. She informed, that her country’s manufacturing is set to rise strongly by 8 percent, and exports are forecast to increase by 8.5 percent. 

"Priority needs to be given to boosting domestic production of essential and strategic medicines as currently 40 percent medicines marketed in the EU are imported from the non-EU countries, while 60 - 80 percent pharmaceutical products are manufactured in China and India", German MPS told the EU parliament.

Germany’s leader has, from time to time, emphasised on the EU to be more self-sufficient when it comes to medicines and medical equipment to make the affordable treatment amid the pandemic available for the EU citizens as healthcare exacerbated due to the COVID-19 crisis. Germany also urged the bloc to use  pharmaceutical strategy to ensure that safe medicines in Europe can be made available, accessible and affordable by increasing foreign direct investment in pharmaceutical manufacturing plants, which are part of Europe’s critical health infrastructure. 

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