European Union to fast-track approval of vaccines targeting coronavirus mutations

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The EU will shorten the approval process for coronavirus vaccines that are altered to better protect against new mutations of the virus, according to European Commissioner for Health Stella Kyriakides.

“We have now decided that a vaccine that has been upgraded by the manufacturer based on the previous vaccine to combat new mutations will not have to go through the whole approval process,” Kyriakides said Sunday in an interview with Germany’s regional newspaper Augsburger Allgemeine.

“So it will be faster to have dedicated vaccines available without compromising on safety,” she added.

In the same interview, the commissioner also sought to defend the EU’s joint vaccine procurement program, which has been beset by repeated delays.

According to Kyriakides, at least 700 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be available by the end of September, “which is more than enough for 70 percent of the EU population.”

By the end of June, 300 million doses of the three vaccines approved for use in the EU will be available, allowing for one-third of EU citizens to be fully vaccinated. “This number could even increase if the Johnson&Johnson vaccine is added,” Kyriakides said.

“It’s wrong to suggest that we’ve only made mistakes,” Kyriakides added, referring to the EU’s overall vaccination strategy. “Without the EU, citizens in all 27 member countries, regardless of size and economic strength, would likely not have had access to vaccines.”

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