Amsterdam / Brussels: An agency that approves EU medicines said Thursday that in an “optimistic” situation, a vaccine against the new coronavirus can be approved in about a year.
As the world is eager to develop vaccines, the EU, hit by COVID-19, fears that it may not have sufficient supplies, especially if vaccines are developed in the United States or China.
Marco Cavaleri, the head of the EMA vaccine, said that the European Medicines Agency is communicating with 33 developers and is doing everything possible to speed up the approval process.
“For vaccines, since the development has to start from scratch … we might look from an optimistic side in a year from now, so beginning of 2021,” he told journalists.
He ruled out the possibility of skipping the third phase of the vaccine trial, which he said would require the vaccine to be safe and effective.
According to data from the World Health Organization, EMA is also looking for 115 different treatments against coronavirus, which has killed nearly 300,000 people worldwide.
Cavalieri said that some of these therapies may be approved in Europe as early as this summer, but he did not specify.
A leading EU legislator said that if vaccines are developed outside the EU, the EU should circumvent the intellectual property rights of pharmaceutical companies. This is a new sign that the EU is worried about falling behind in global competition.
“If a vaccine is first developed outside Europe, we must do everything possible to ensure that the vaccine is actually available to all countries,” said Peter Liese, who is a prominent member of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, the same as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s.
“We are counting on dialogue and cooperation, but we must also expect others to reject dialogue and cooperation. This is why we need a plan B”, said Liese.
The United States and China have been cautious about supporting a global fundraising campaign promoted by the European Union, which this month raised $ 8 billion for research, manufacturing and distribution of possible COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
Liese called on the EU government and the European Commission to consider exemptions in accordance with the rules of the World Trade Organization, which allows states to produce generic drugs without the consent of pharmaceutical companies that first developed and still have intellectual property rights.