Empowering Health Choices in the EU: The Vital Need for Diverse COVID-19 Vaccination Options

At Moderna, we firmly believe that choice is not only a preference but also a necessity for empowering individuals and ensuring effective healthcare. As many member states across Europe move to an endemic phase of tackling COVID-19, the power of having several vaccines can make the difference between resurgence and recovery. As we continue to battle against COVID-19 this Autumn, embracing a diverse supply of vaccines isn’t just a preference; it’s a necessity.  

Why does vaccine diversity matter?  

Simply put, choice equals access. Different vaccines have varying effectiveness, storage requirements, and dosing regimens, so having a range of products available allows us to reach more people more efficiently. It’s not just about getting vaccines out there; it’s about ensuring that healthcare professionals and individuals have options to protect themselves effectively.  

Choice is also about trust. The more vaccine options people have, the more likely they are to find one they feel comfortable with. This is crucial when vaccine hesitancy has been growing in society and risks slowing down our path to immunity.  

The EU needs to ensure a diverse supply of vaccines as it aligns with principles of competition, innovation, and consumer protection. This promotes public health and upholds the values of an inclusive society. 

Maintaining the EU’s position as a pharmaceutical hub and investing in prevention 

The European Commission (EC) industry scorecard shows that the healthcare industry delivers the second-highest level of investment value compared to other innovative industries. It contributes significantly to the EU economy, offering hundreds of thousands of jobs annually and serving as an investment that delivers health and prosperity. Moderna is one of the companies that contributes to this regard. Today, we have a direct presence, including supply capacity in the European Union and over 500 employees.  

The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the significance of the vaccine industry. Moderna’s mRNA platform emerged as a game-changer, illustrating the power of innovative approaches in combating global health crises. Almost half of the patent applications for COVID-19 vaccines originated from Europe, highlighting the EU’s substantial contribution to this worldwide endeavor. Furthermore, the EU serves as a springboard to serve markets such as the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Africa, amplifying the impact of a diverse vaccine supply. By having a diverse range of vaccines available, the EU can not only protect its population but also play a crucial role in global health by providing vaccines to regions that may have limited access.  

Yet, despite the critical role of the vaccine industry, policy discussions often sideline its importance. A recent report by Vaccines Europe and Charles River Associates highlights the challenges that must be addressed to secure the EU’s global leadership in vaccine innovation and pave the way for future breakthroughs. Prioritizing policy discussions on various aspects of the vaccine ecosystem, such as funding research, infrastructure, and workforce, coordination between the EU and Member States, and establishing a flexible regulatory environment, is crucial.  

Financing vaccination campaigns in Europe is an investment in health, offering high economic and fiscal returns. It provides the necessary infrastructure for pandemic preparedness and supports equitable access to vaccines. By prioritizing vaccination financing, governments can protect their populations, reduce healthcare burdens, and build resilient healthcare systems. In this regard, it is essential that the EU consistently demonstrates support for the vaccine industry in global policy debates.[1]  

Moderna’s alignment with the priorities outlined in the report is evident through our actions and goals. Our investments in the European region and long-term partnerships with other manufacturers reflect our commitment to supporting the EU’s leadership in vaccine innovation and ensuring people can have vaccine choices. This commitment to providing choice through continuous innovation and collaboration underscores the importance of a diverse array of options in the fight against COVID-19 and other diseases. As our pipeline comes to fruition, our efforts to bring vaccines and therapeutics to the region contribute to advancing public health and reinforcing the EU’s global leadership in vaccine innovation.  

Ensuring collaboration

In conclusion, the continuous fight against potential pandemics demands a collective effort. It requires a diverse array of prevention tools and several options to protect oneself effectively. This aligns with the EU’s vision to foster innovation, attract investments, and safeguard the health and well-being of populations worldwide.  

The path forward lies in collaboration between policymakers and the industry, prioritizing vaccines, and creating a dynamic vaccine research and development ecosystem. Only then can the EU secure its global leadership in vaccine innovation and protect public health. This journey, while challenging, promises a brighter, healthier future for all. Because when it comes to public health, choice isn’t just powerful; it’s essential.

Chantal Friebertshaeuser

Senior Vice President & GM, Europe, Middle East, Australia, and Canada (EMEAC) at Moderna

[1] Vaccines Europe and Charles River Associates (2023), “Improving the Attractiveness of the Vaccines Industry in the EU”. Available at: https://www.vaccineseurope.eu/news/publications/improving-the-attractiveness-of-the-vaccines-industry-in-the-european-union