As Europe braces for what appears to be a second wave of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic with harsher measures, the European Commission presented a far-reaching strategy that will ensure a vaccine – once it is released – will be immediately deployed.
The strategy presented on Thursday, focuses on four key areas, namely safety, fairness, prioritization, and flexibility, and member states should make sure it is easily accessible and affordable mainly for target populations.
EU states will also be required to issue clear communications on the benefits, risks and importance of the vaccines to build trust, the Commission said.
It should be noted that all member states will have access to Covid-19 vaccines at the same time on the basis of population size.
At the same time, the Commission is calling on member states to be ready for the storage and transport of the vaccine once it has been cleared by the European Medicines Agency as well as to train a specialized workforce and have medical equipment in place for all necessary procedures.
“A safe and effective vaccine is our best shot at beating the coronavirus and returning to our normal lives,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement.
“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,” she added.
The Commission and EU states have been working since June to secure the production of Covid-19 vaccines through advance purchase agreements with producers in Europe.
“Time is running out – everyone’s first priority should be to do what it takes to avoid the devastating consequences of generalized lockdowns. And we must all prepare for the next steps,” said Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.
“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.”
Once the vaccines are distributed, priority will be given to healthcare and long-term care facility workers; persons over 60 years of age; persons whose state of health makes them particularly at risk; essential workers; persons who cannot socially distance; more disadvantaged socio-economic groups.