EU allow COVID-19 vaccines and treatments to be developed more quickly

EU allow COVID-19 vaccines and treatments to be developed more quickly

The new coronavirus pandemic has already killed over 200,000 people in Europe, two thirds of which in the UK, Italy, France and Spain, according to the Agence France Press. With a total of 200,000 victims out of 2,751,606 cases, Europe is the continent most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has already killed nearly 540,000 people worldwide. In Europe, the most affected countries are the United Kingdom (44,236) and Italy (34,869), followed by France (29,920) and Spain (28,388).

That’s why the European Parliament adopted last week a new Regulation by 505 votes to 67 and 109 abstentions, via the urgent procedure, that will allow COVID-19 vaccines and treatments to be developed more quickly by member States.Developing and deploying an effective and safe vaccine against the virus is the most likely permanent solution to stop the pandemic. To this end, the Commission has proposed an EU vaccines strategy for COVID-19 including a temporary and strictly COVID-19-related derogation from certain rules for clinical trials.

Clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines are a time-consuming step before authorisation, as they need to be carried out in several member states to ensure the populations for whom the vaccines are intended are represented and to generate robust and conclusive data.Some COVID-19 vaccines and treatments already being developed may be defined genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and are thus covered by the relevant EU GMO Directives. As national requirements to assess the environmental risks of clinical trials on medicinal products that contain or consist of GMOs vary considerably across member states, a derogation from these rules is needed to avoid significant delay in developing life-saving vaccines and treatments.

The Commission has proposed a Regulation to derogate temporarily – only for the period during which COVID-19 is a public health emergency – from certain provisions of the GMO Directive for clinical trials on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments that contain or consist of GMOs. The derogation should apply only to operations necessary to conduct the clinical trial phase and for compassionate or emergency use in the context of COVID-19.The derogation will facilitate the development, authorisation and consequently availability of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. When debated last week in the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, members agreed on the need to adapt the rules but stressed that standards for vaccine quality, safety and efficacy must be maintained.

The coronavirus pandemic affects practically every country in the world. Past experiences have shown that even with the availability of effective tools at the world’s disposal, some are protected, while others are not.At their summit on 26 March 2020 with Saudi Arabia in the chair, G20 leaders called for a transparent, robust, coordinated, large-scale and science-based global response in the spirit of solidarity. They committed to presenting a united front against the common threat of the global pandemic.

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