- Budget and staff numbers falling short
- Europe lagging behind US
Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe is calling on the EU to redirect funding from other sources within its coffers to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, in an effort to up the ante in the fight to vaccinate the population.
At present, the ECDC’s budget falls well short of its equivalents elsewhere in the world, despite the centre being responsible for overseeing the bloc’s defences against infectious diseases like Covid-19.
“At the moment, we are living our lives dictated by figures and statistics from NIAC, NPHET, the HSE and so on,” said Deputy Crowe.
“The vast majority of us are happy to play our part in keeping the figures down to the best of our ability but we also need assurances that this disease is being fought by mothership Europe.
“The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control is a Stockholm-based organisation that is alarmingly small, with just 300 employees working within its walls. For comparison, our small country’s state broadcaster RTÉ has six times that number on its payroll.
“As well as its scale, it runs on annual budget of €50 million whereas its US equivalent has an annual budget of $12 billion.
“So it should come as no surprise, then, that an agency set up in the aftermath of the SARS outbreak in 2002 is finding itself rather inept 18 years on, in trying to steer every European nation through one of the most treacherous outbreaks we have faced.
“In fact, the likes of the HSE, the NHS all the national agencies across the continent are outperforming the main European body that is responsible for fighting back against viral spread of diseases.
“If you look at the European Space Agency, it has a €6.7 billion budget – that’s a budget that this year could be channelled back into public health rather than sending rockets into space, which is ordinarily a scientific exploration that I think most people would support.
“I also think EU needs to look at its expert labs and the vast scientific knowledge it has right throughout its member states and work towards the bloc having its own vaccination, its own rollout – we’re fully reliant on third parties at present and we’ve seen how AstraZenica has let us down.
“We also must look at countries like Norway – Norway is not in the bloc but time and time again has identified key strategic companies in their country over the past three decades and has become a stronghold for a number of industries.
“The bottom line is we need more money in Europe for the jabs and this must be the focus of the EU and the ECDC.”