With Christmas coming up, there are fears of a third wave of COVID-19. However, the President of the European Commission said in an address this week that vaccination could start next month.
President Ursula von der Leyen said to the European Parliament that EU member states should start preparing for vaccines to be distributed before the end of December. This is promising for many European citizens, especially those in higher risk categories.
She noted, “What counts is vaccinations. Member states must get ready now. We’re talking about millions of syringes, we’re talking about cold chains, we’re talking about organising vaccination centres, we’re talking about trained personnel that are there. You name it. All this has to be prepared.”
This news follows the EU signing a deal with US manufacturer Moderna on Wednesday. The deal will initially secure approximately 160 million doses of the vaccine which, in clinical trials, was found to be 94.5% effective in protecting patients from COVID-19.
Furthermore, Pfizer and OXford-AstraZeneca have submitted data from their own vaccines to the European Medicines Agency (EMA). These are awaiting approval, but reports suggest they have similar levels of effectiveness and safety.
If approved, the makers of these vaccines say that they could arrange shipment of the first batches within hours of receiving approval from European regulators.
The director of the EMA, Emer Cooke, said the agency was “very hopeful” and that “all going well, we would be very hopeful that we could have a positive opinion before Christmas.”
It’s hoped that vaccines could bring an end to the pandemic. This brings hope to Europeans that have been affected both healthwise, and also economically, as various countries have seen serious financial problems as a result of the restrictions.
For now, though, most of Europe is still under pressure to bring down infection rates and, at the moment, these rates are too high for normal life to resume.
Ursula von der Leyen also pointed out that most leaders are reluctant to start relaxing measures too early as this could lead to another surge in cases.
“We must learn from the summer and not repeat the same mistakes. Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for the third wave after Christmas. Weeks ago I said that this Christmas will be different. And yes, it will be quieter,” she said.
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