The European Commission announced on 17 June 2020 its plan for a COVID-19 vaccine strategy in a press release. The original plan can be found in pdf format by clicking this link.
According to the press release, the development and distribution of the vaccines will hopefully take somewhere between 12 and 18 months from the time of the publication. Although it could be sooner, vaccine development is a very complicated process requiring possibly many months of research and experimentation.
“Vaccine development is a complex and lengthy process. With today’s strategy, the Commission will support efforts to accelerate the development and availability of safe and effective vaccines in a timeframe between 12 and 18 months, if not earlier. Delivering on this complex undertaking requires running clinical trials in parallel with investing in production capacity to be able to produce millions, or even billions, of doses of a successful vaccine. The Commission is fully mobilised to support the efforts of vaccine developers in their endeavor,” the press release reads.
The EC strategy lays the groundwork for safe, fair, and timely access to vaccines.
According to the plan laid out by the EC, the strategy has the following objectives:
- “Ensuring the quality, safety, and efficacy of vaccines.”
- “Securing swift access to vaccines for Member States and their populations while leading the global solidarity effort.”
- “Ensuring equitable access to an affordable vaccine as early as possible.”
The EC also laid out two “pillars” for the strategy to stand on:
- “Securing the production of vaccines in the EU and sufficient supplies for its Member States through Advance Purchase Agreements with vaccine producers via the Emergency Support Instrument. Additional financing and other forms of support can be made available on top of such agreements.”
- “Adapting the EU’s regulatory framework to the current urgency and making use of existing regulatory flexibility to accelerate the development, authorisation and availability of vaccines while maintaining the standards for vaccine quality, safety and efficacy.”
In addition to making vaccines available and fair to all people within the EU and Schengen, the EU is also making advance purchase agreements with vaccine developers to buy a set number of vaccines before they are produced, in order to secure them for European use once they are available.
The advance purchase agreements will help spur the production of vaccines by giving advance funding for research and development.
It is still unknown exactly when vaccines will be developed and available for wide distribution globally.