The European Union on May 14 reportedly said that the vaccine to combat the deadly coronavirus could be approved in about a year in an ‘optimistic’ scenario. While the European countries are battling to contain the virus outbreak, the EU said that they fear that they might not have sufficient supplies, especially if a vaccine were developed in the United States or China.
While speaking to an international media outlet, the European Medicines Agency, which is in communication with 33 developers, said that the agency was sceptical of claims that any vaccine could be ready by September. EMA’s head of vaccines, Marco Cavaleri, reportedly said that for vaccines the agency might look from an ‘optimistic side’ in a year from now as the development has to start from scratch. He even ruled out the possibility of skipping the third phase of a vaccine trial, which according to him would need to be sure a vaccine was safe and effective.
According to a media report, the EMA is looking at 115 different therapeutics or treatments for the deadly virus. Cavaleri reportedly said that some of those therapeutics could be approved in Europe as early as this summer, but he also did not specify which. Meanwhile, a leading EU lawmaker said that the EU should circumvent pharmaceutical companies’ intellectual property rights if a vaccine were developed outside the bloc.
Peter Liese, who is a prominent member of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, while speaking to the media outlet said that if a vaccine is first developed outside Europe then the authorities must do everything possible to ensure that the vaccine is actually available to all countries. Liese further added that the German authorities are counting on dialogue and cooperation, but the officials also expect others to reject dialogue and cooperation. He said that the European countries need a ‘Plan B’.
Furthermore, Liese also called in EU governments and European Commission to consider a waiver under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules that allow states to produce generic drugs without the consent of the pharmaceutical companies that have first developed them and still own intellectual rights.
Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently warned, “A mass vaccine or treatment may be more than a year away”. He added, “Indeed, in a worst-case scenario, we may never find a vaccine. So our plan must countenance a situation where we are in this, together, for the long haul, even while doing all we can to avoid that outcome”.