The EU has called for a moment of ‘science and solidarity’, announcing a new European strategy to accelerate development of a coronavirus vaccine.
The European Commission (EC) has set out a number of objectives for a new European coronavirus vaccine strategy, noting that “time is of the essence”. These include ensuring the quality, safety and efficacy of vaccines; securing swift access to vaccines for member states; and ensuring equitable access to an affordable vaccine as soon as possible.
This, the EC said, would be achieved by securing the production of vaccines in the EU through advanced purchase agreements with vaccine producers using the €2.7bn Emergency Support Instrument. In return for the right to buy a specified number of vaccine doses in a given timeframe, the EU will finance part of the upfront costs faced by vaccine producers.
The strategy will also look to adapt existing regulatory frameworks around vaccines, including an accelerated procedure for authorisation, flexibility in relation to labelling and packaging. There is also a proposal to provide temporary derogations from certain provisions of the GMO legislation to speed up clinical trials of Covid-19 vaccines and medicines containing genetically modified organisms.
‘A moment for science and solidarity’
Speaking of the new strategy, EC president Ursula von der Leyen said: “This is a moment for science and solidarity. Nothing is certain, but I am confident that we can mobilise the resources to find a vaccine to beat this virus once and for all.
“We must be ready to manufacture and deploy such a vaccine across Europe and the world. This vaccine will be a breakthrough in the fight against the coronavirus, and a testament to what partners can achieve when we put our minds, research and resources together.”
The EC’s commissioner for health and food safety, Stella Kyriakides, added that the strategy offers “the best opportunity of finding a permanent exit strategy from the Covid-19 crisis”.
“This is the EU at its best: pooling resources, joining efforts, bringing tangible results to the everyday lives of people,” she said. “No one is safe until everyone is safe and we will leave no stones unturned in our efforts to protect EU and global citizens.”
Earlier this week, the EC released a new interactive map and platform called Re-open EU that will provide real-time information on borders and available means of transport and tourism services in member states.