EU drug agency contradicts Commission: COVID-19 vaccine only in a year’s time

EMA: "We can see the possibility if everything goes as planned that some of them (vaccines) could be ready for approval in a year from now." [Shutterstock/ Lubo Ivanko]

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Thursday (14 May) that a vaccine to tackle COVID-19 could be ready in a year’s time under an “optimistic” scenario, in contrast with the European Commission’s ambitious projections of having a vaccine “by autumn”.

“We can see the possibility if everything goes as planned that some of them (vaccines) could be ready for approval in a year from now,” Marco Cavaleri, the EMA’s head of biological health threats and vaccines strategy, told a video news conference, according to AFP.

“These are just forecasts based on what we are seeing. But again I have to stress that this is a best-case scenario, we know not all vaccines that come into development may not make it to authorisation and disappear,” he added.

Commission projections exposed as too optimistic

The agency was, however, “a bit sceptical” about reports that a vaccine could be ready as soon as September.

EMA’s projection contradicts the European Commission, and particularly its president, Ursula von der Leyen, who said at the beginning of the pandemic that a vaccine could be ready by autumn.

During a press conference in March, von der Leyen said she was optimistic that a vaccine could be found and even be authorised in the market before autumn.

In late April, Nathalie Moll, director of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), said in a televised interview that if the clinical trials continue and are successful, we could have a vaccine by the beginning of next year.

“Of course, no one can predict whether clinical trials will lead to successful candidate vaccines”, she said.

The Amsterdam-based EU agency meanwhile also played down fears expressed by the World Health Organisation that the virus “may never go away”.

“I think it’s a bit early to say but we have good reason to be sufficiently optimistic that some vaccines will make it,” Cavaleri said.

“I would be surprised that if at the end of the day we don’t have any vaccine for COVID-19.”

[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos | EURACTIV.com]

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