Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune said that we must ensure that we have better regulatory approval procedures in place to allow for COVID-19 vaccines that are adapted to new variants.
MEP Clune said by adopting quicker procedures similar to authorisations for annual flu vaccines we can ensure that the fight against Covid-19 continues and that we stay on track to fight the pandemic.
The European Parliament has approved a new procedure for vaccines against Coronavirus mutations. This procedure proposes to amend the current regulatory procedure in order to allow for COVID-19 vaccines that are adapted to new variants to be approved more quickly.
MEP Clune said: “There are different mutated variants of the Coronavirus virus emerging and it is vital in our fight against this virus that we do all we can to make the process simpler but also safe. The proposal for the new rules are similar to authorisations for annual flu vaccines, which also need to be regularly adapted.
“Europe must be ready and prepared for the possibility of future variants being more or fully resistant to existing vaccines. This very real threat of variants requires determined, collective and immediate action. Our response should build on our experience since the emergency of the initial virus, learning the lessons from where there were delays, disruptions and bottlenecks.”
In addition to the amending regulation on COVID-19 vaccines, the Commission will establish and operate a new bio-defence preparedness plan called HERA Incubator, to access and mobilise all means and resources necessary to prevent, mitigate and respond to the potential impact of variants. The HERA Incubator is a project designed to monitor variants, exchange data and cooperate on adapting vaccines.
All viruses evolve over time. These changes are called “mutations”. A virus with one or more new mutations is referred to as a “variant” of the original virus. According to the WHO, COVID-19 vaccines currently being developed or already approved are expected to provide at least some protection against new variants of the virus. In the event that any of these vaccines prove to be less effective against one or more variants, the composition of the vaccines can be adapted to protect against these variants.
EU COVID-19 CERTIFICATE CAN HELP BOOST THE ECONOMY AND TRAVEL
Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune MEP has welcomed the news that EU COVID-19 Certificate (previously the Digital Green Certificate) has been approved by MEPs.
MEP Clune said the implementation of the EU Covid-19 Cert must be prioritised so it can be introduced when it is safe to do so. The certificate will show if a person has been vaccinated, has recently tested negative or has natural immunity after recovering from COVID-19.
MEP Clune said: “The plan is that this certificate will only be used for travel and only for the duration of the pandemic in order to ensure people are protected from Covid-19. It can help to facilitate people as they move and travel around Europe.”
“The EU Covid-19 Cert makes sense. It would allow people with the certificate to travel freely and safely across Europe. What is vital now is that Europe works together on making sure that the Cert is developed as quickly as possible and in the most effective way. The priority for all Member States, including Ireland is ensuring that their citizens are safe and protected from Covid-19 and this Cert can help achieve that as economies and borders begin to open up again.”
The Cert can help make travel safer and easier across Europe while also boosting business and the economy, according to MEP Clune who added that once approved by the Parliament it is up to the Member States to implement it.
“The certificate proposal must respect our fundamental rights and values. This can only be a welcome move in the right direction for many sectors such as tourism and business.”
MEP Clune, who is a Member of the Parliament’s Public Health Committee added: "The European Parliament belives that Covid testing could be free of charge in some cases, especially for front line workers and those who may not be able to afford a test.
“We now have over one million people in Ireland who have received a vaccine and the vaccination teams and GPs around the country are doing tremendous work. We now have four vaccines approved for use in Ireland and we are moving in the right direction.”