FRANKFURT • The European Union will fast-track approvals of coronavirus vaccines adapted to combat mutations, EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said in a newspaper interview yesterday.
“We have now decided that a vaccine that has been improved by the manufacturer on the basis of the previous vaccine to combat new mutations no longer has to go through the entire approval process,” she told Bavaria’s Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.
“So it will be faster to have suitable vaccines available without compromising on safety.”
The European Commission has come under fire from EU member states over delays to deliveries of vaccines that have seen the bloc lag behind countries such as Britain and the United States.
Mrs Kyriakides is a member of a new task force, led by Industry Commissioner Thierry Breton, to eliminate bottlenecks in production plants and adjust output to new variants.
While vaccinations in the first quarter of this year have started slowly, the second quarter should see a pick-up. By the end of September, the EU expects to have received sufficient doses from producers to cover over 70 per cent of its population, Ms Kyriakides said.
She also reiterated the Commission’s view that closing borders was not an effective weapon against infections. “I think it is wrong for us to return to a Europe with closed borders, as in March 2020,” she said.