Round Table “Lessons learned from the pandemic and upcoming challenges” – 23.03.2022
- Mr. Thomas Cueni - Director General of IFPMA
- Mrs. Caroline Ven - CEO pharma.be
- Dr. Yves Van Laethem - Inter-federal Spokesperson in the fight against Covid
- Mr. Philippe De Backer - Head of Belgian Taskforce Shortages
- Mr. Robby De Caluwé - Chairman Special Commission for research into the Belgian approach to the Covid epidemic.
The debate started with an interview of Thomas Cueni (IFPMA). Mr. Cueni commented the industry’s response to the pandemic and covered the key takeaways in terms of industry’s achievements.
He reemphasised the importance of IP rights and said the IP waiver discussion is a distraction while going explaining which efficient measures should be taken to ensure safe and fast global vaccination.
During the round table, Caroline Ven (pharma.be) shared her first experience as CEO of pharma.be. Mrs. Ven was frequently asked by media representatives and others why the development of vaccines took so long. Soon to be followed by questions regarding the availability of sufficient vaccines and the upscaling of production. Philippe De Backer was thankful for the help the pharmaceutical industry provided at the beginning of the pandemic in Belgian by reacting fast.
New collaborations were set up, adapting infrastructure went swiftly e.g. to produce hand gel and companies authorised their collaborators to go help in test centres.
Yves Van Laethem had some criticism on the pandemic plan that was developed. It was an empty box because the plan, initiated in 2009 during the H1N1 pandemic, was according to Van Lathem “put in a box and the key was thrown away”. We need a plan, but not a technical one. We need a plan involving health workers, politicians, the pharma industry and involving everything that could play an important role. That is the lesson we learned from this pandemic.
Both Philippe De Backer and Robby Decaluwé stressed the importance of good crisis management, which was lacking at the beginning of the pandemic. Robby De Caluwé indicated that when someone becomes Secretary of State, no training in crisis management is mandatory. When Mr. De Caluwé became mayor, he received mandatory training in crisis management with regular refresh courses. He also emphasised that the complex structure of the Belgian state means that it is not always possible to react quickly. This should be addressed urgently.
Photograph by Benjamin Brolet (2022)