Several approvals possible before the end of the year / AstraZeneca uses well-known technology / Pandemic will lose its horror in spring and may be over in the EU by summer, even more reason to hold out now

The University of Oxford and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca have just presented the results of the efficacy of their corona vaccine candidate. "This is another piece of very good news. The interim results of the studies give us hope that three vaccines will be available very quickly, perhaps as early as this year," said MEP Peter Liese, health policy spokesperson of the largest group in the European Parliament (EPP, Christian Democrats).

“The efficacy seems to be lower than with Biontech/Pfizer and Moderna but the vaccine still has advantages. AstraZeneca uses a well-known technology, namely a so-called vector vaccine. Here a harmless virus is modified so that it contains parts of the corona virus and thus provokes a vaccination reaction. Although I have great confidence in the projects of BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna, it is nevertheless good that we also have a vaccine candidate that uses a different technique. It may be that the AstraZeneca vaccine is more suitable for certain groups of people and it would certainly be an alternative for people who do not accept the novel m-RNA vaccines. Another advantage is that the vaccine is significantly cheaper than BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna," said the doctor and MEP.

"Of course, the results of AstraZeneca, just like those of BioNTech and Moderna, must be independently investigated. All vaccines approved in Europe are safe, and this must be the case with vaccines against coronavirus. However, I expect that the European Medicines Agency may have checked the data before Christmas and that one to three vaccines will be approved this year," said Liese. The European Commission had already decided in August on a contract with AstraZeneca to purchase up to 400 million vaccine doses. "Together with the 300 million vaccine doses from BioNTech/Pfizer, we already have enough vaccine available to vaccinate two thirds of the EU citizens, namely 350 million (two vaccine doses are needed for each). More vaccines are likely to be added soon, and the Commission is still negotiating with Moderna. Three candidates, Curevac, Johnsons&Johnson and Sanofi/GSK, with whom we already have contracts, are also expected to be on the market in the first or second quarter of next year. Then we would even have too much vaccine, but this is not a problem, as the contracts explicitly state that we can also give the vaccine to third countries, for example in the Western Balkans or in Africa. The European Commission and the German Presidency have acted wisely by concluding the treaties on time", said Liese.

The doctor and MEP is optimistic that the pandemic would lose its horror within a few weeks thanks to the vaccines. "If we vaccinate risk groups and medical staff first, as planned, it will be possible to have such a high level of protection for these groups of people as early as March that the pandemic loses its horror because far fewer people who get infected will also have a severe course. If we organise the distribution of the vaccine well now, it could be over in Europe by the summer. Precisely because there is now hope, it is urgently necessary to get the infection situation in Europe under control. It is imperative that we manage to get quickly below 100 infections per 100 000 inhabitants per two weeks and stay below 100 until the risk groups and medical staff have been vaccinated. Such a strategy can prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths in the EU".