Ireland endorses common EU Vaccine Strategy for Covid-19

EU proposes shared framework for quarantine and test regimes among member states

Ireland has endorsed a common European Union (EU) Vaccine Strategy for Covid-19, which has almost completed a portfolio with six promising vaccine candidates, Irish Medical Times reports.

The diversity of this portfolio improves Ireland’s chances of having access to a safe and effective vaccine, Commissioner Stella Kyriakides told Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and colleagues, participating in the latest informal videoconference of EU Health Ministers.

The Advance Purchase Agreement signed with AstraZeneca on August 27 had been an important milestone “as it secures our access to what will probably be the first vaccine against Covid-19,” she told health ministers.

They had also concluded exploratory talks with Sanofi-GSK, Johnson & Johnson, CureVac and Moderna. They were also very close to concluding with BioNTech.

Minister Donnelly confirmed Ireland’s support for the goal of obtaining a broad portfolio of candidate vaccines that included a range of different technological approaches, which gave the best chance of securing a safe and effective vaccine against Covid-19.

Commissioner Kyriakides invited health ministers to cooperate with the Commission and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) to reach a common understanding on justified, proportionate criteria for restrictions to free movement and travel-related measures.

The Commissioner urged support from health ministers in agreeing common criteria to determine the epidemiological risks, introduce a common colour coding system on risk areas and a common approach on measures when returning from travel to higher risk areas, like testing and quarantine.

“We are not seeking to harmonise here; we seek to coordinate,” she added.

“Ireland welcomes engagement on approaches to travel across Europe and is particularly supportive of initiatives to strengthen the sharing and comparability of data to inform any related policies,” Minister Donnelly told EU colleagues.

The Commissioner also expressed concern that there were large variations in EU countries on the approaches and capacity to test and contact-trace for Covid-19.

The EU was proposing a shared EU framework for quarantine and test regimes. They were discussing a common approach to testing in the EU’s Health Security Committee, based on common principles and existing approaches.

“This is essential to respond effectively to Covid-19 and control transmission and I call on you to underline to your experts the importance of reaching an agreement on this common framework,” Commissioner Kyriakides told health ministers.

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