Executives from some of the top pharmaceutical companies in the EU, and also bodies representing the sector, have been answering tough questions posed by legislators in the European Parliament. In recent days newspaper reports have painted the industry in a poor light with respect to the search for COVID-19 vaccines.
Lawmakers expressed frustration that Advance Purchase Agreements between the European Commission and pharma companies lack transparency, particularly when it comes to liability, in the event a vaccine harms people, and also the cost of production and distribution.
Pharmaceutical industry representatives told the debate they also carry the burden of risk as private companies. They claim it can cost up to one billion euro to develop a potential vaccine, produce millions of doses in advance, and then it turns out the vaccine doesn't even work.
Don't cut any corners financially. That's the advice experts are sending to EU leaders in terms of the fight against this pandemic.
The European Parliament debate heard that 150 vaccines are under development globally. The EU is in contact with 38 of these producers. It's hoped at least three will be available before the end of the year. However, there are no guarantees.
Infection rates are rising in almost every EU country and health professionals are concerned that the winter is approaching. Clearly, a vaccine that works cannot come soon enough.