European Commission announces its COVID-19 vaccine strategy

The European Commission has presented the key elements of the EU’s COVID-19 vaccine strategy, which aims to distribute vaccines safely and efficiently across member states.

In line with the EU COVID-19 vaccines strategy, the European Commission and Member States are securing the production of vaccines through Advance Purchase Agreements with vaccine producers in Europe. Any vaccine will need to be authorised by the European Medicine Agency according to regular safety and efficacy standards. Member States should now start preparing a common vaccination strategy for vaccine deployment.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “A safe and effective vaccine is our best shot at beating coronavirus and returning to our normal lives. We have been working hard to make agreements with pharmaceutical companies and secure future doses.

“Now, we must ensure that once a vaccine is found, we are fully prepared to deploy it. With our Vaccination Strategy, we are helping EU countries prepare their vaccination campaigns: who should be vaccinated first, how to have a fair distribution and how to protect the most vulnerable. If we want our vaccination to be successful, we need to prepare now.”

The key features of the EU’s COVID-19 vaccine strategy

All Member States will have access to COVID-19 vaccines at the same time. The overall number of vaccine doses will be limited during the initial stages of deployment and only offered to priority groups, which include essential workers, healthcare personnel, and persons who cannot socially distance. According to the COVID-19 vaccine strategy, once the vaccine has been deployed to priority groups, it will then be rolled out to the public.

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety said: “The vaccine will not be a silver bullet, but it will play a central role to save lives and contain the pandemic. And when and if a safe and efficient vaccine is found, we need to be prepared to roll it out as quickly as possible, including building citizens’ trust in its safety and efficacy. Vaccines will not save lives – vaccinations will.”

Vaccine safety, quality, and efficacy are the cornerstones of any vaccine development and authorisation process, and vaccine developers are required to submit extensive documentation and data to the European Medicines Agency through the EU Marketing Authorisation procedure.

Once authorised, the COVID-19 vaccine will be heavily monitored to ensure its safety and efficacy. Further evidence will need to be centrally collected to assess the impact and effectiveness of the vaccines once rolled out in the population.

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