As the Republic of Cyprus expects to get one million of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, President Anastasiades is calling for “common standards” as fierce competition overseas paints a gloomy picture on how countries go about to secure vaccinations for their citizens.
During a meeting via video conference on Thursday, EU leaders agreed to further strengthen coordination against the COVID-19 pandemic, while they focused on mutual recognition of tests, vaccine deployment, and a common approach to lifting restrictive measures.
President Nicos Anastasiades, who took part in the meeting, reportedly underlined the importance of “developing a coordinated approach for vaccination strategies across Europe.”
The EU leaders also welcomed the fact that member states and the Commission had already finalized several advance purchase agreements with vaccine producers.
In a highly competitive race for a shot, both medical and political factors have been part of the wider conversation, with the EU already seeing signs of a weakening united front
But in a highly competitive race for a shot, both medical and political factors have been part of the wider conversation for weeks and months, with the European Union already seeing signs of a weakening united front.
US pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech announced on this week the highest success rate for any candidate vaccination in late-stage trials so far, adding there were no major side effects, a sign that the immunization could be employed broadly around the world.
But last week, Russia said interim trial results showed its candidate was 92 percent effective, suggesting more promising results could be on the way, with Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto saying Moscow was preparing to supply a batch of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine to Budapest for clinical trials.
On Thursday, Szijjarto wrote on Facebook that a “sample of the Russian vaccine has been delivered to Budapest. Now, it is turn of Hungarian experts - they can start research to make their best grounded decision."
Hungary and Poland ignoring EMA approval rule
Officials in Brussels are now criticizing both Hungary and Poland, whose position as EU members on the vaccine was described to be "against the rule of law" that went against EU regulations that provide for Sputnik V to be authorized by the European Medicines Agency before it can be marketed in any state of the 27-nation bloc.
Experts have said the Russian data was encouraging but warned that the results were only based on a small number of trial volunteers who had contracted COVID-19.
During the video conference, President of the European Council Charles Michel reiterated that leaders agreed to speed up the preparations of national vaccination plans to ensure vaccines were available and affordable to all EU citizens, after they would be authorized.
"The results of recent trials are encouraging. Future vaccines are within reach, and we need to be ready," Michel said.
Anastasiades expressed his wish that the situation in the near future would be such as to allow the relaxation of measures and that citizens would be able to celebrate Christmas, at the end of a very difficult year for everyone.