Tuesday, February 27, 2024

EU Leaders meet to go faster vaccine rollout in race against variants

EU leaders will meet on Thursday to try to speed up the production and rollout of COVID-19 vaccine to compete with new options that fear a third wave of the pandemic could spark across the continent.

They will also consider how to strike the right balance between restrictions to stop the spread of infection and keeping borders open for the smooth flow of goods and services through internal markets.

“The pressure on everyone is maximum now,” said an EU official ahead of a video conference of the 27 leaders. “This virus does not care about borders, so if we do not coordinate we won’t get out of this together.”

EU regulators expect to issue guidance soon this week to speed up approval of modified vaccines for new variants.

Although infection rates have fallen in about 20 member states of the block, concerns remain a new spike as the British variant spreads and become the dominant strain.

Read more: Rich countries need to increase vaccine supply to poor countries, Argentina, Mexico says

On Wednesday, Sweden announced that it would cut the opening hours of all restaurants, bars, and cafes. Also, tighten restrictions on the number of people allowed in shops to prevent the third wave.

The Czech government should impose stricter restrictions on Thursday after Prime Minister Andrej Babiš warned that the hospital would be on the verge of “disaster” if no action was taken.

Infection rising again

In France, “ the infection rate is rising again, the government has ordered a blockade on the Dunkirk region. By signaling that new restrictions could be applied elsewhere”.

The EU Executive Committee and EU member states themselves have been the target of missteps in their joint vaccine delivery. And stuttering programs, which lag far behind Israel, the UK, and the United States.

The European Commission has announced that supply bottlenecks preventing the start of the vaccination program will soon be resolved. However, Member States want to ensure that photos are provided more smoothly. And that new vaccine can be produced quickly to address new options.

“We urgently need to integrate and strategically steer our vaccine production capacities in Europe”. The heads of states and governments of the five EU countries said in a joint letter before the summit. “The approach should reflect that we cannot afford to lose this battle.”

“European Medicines Agency regulators are expected to issue guidance this week to speed up approval of a modified vaccine for a new variant of the coronavirus”.

During their meeting, EU leaders will agree to work on vaccination certificates for citizens hit by COVID with southern countries. That relies heavily on tourism, which is desperately saving this summer vacation.

The conclusion of the postponement of the pandemic caused the deepest economic recession in the bloc for the past year. And that hit the southern part of the EU particularly hard.

However, some countries, such as France and Germany, are wary of EU-wide certificates for people who have been vaccinated. This can de facto result in an obligation to vaccinate and discriminate against people who cannot or do not wish to fire.

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