Vaccines: Don’t believe the hype

This is the news that EUropa has eagerly awaited: Two pharmaceutical laboratories – Moderna and Pfizer/Biontech – have applied for approval of their COVID 19 vaccines. But the vaccination should be treated with caution.

After all, the application does not mean that the vaccines will be delivered quickly – and that they will work as desired. There are still several critical stages to go through.

First, the EU Medicines Agency (EMA) must examine and approve the applications. For Pfizer/Biontech, this should be done by 29 December at the latest, for Moderna by 12 January.

Thereafter, the EU Commission must authorise the use of the vaccines. This will be done after consultation of the 27 EU Member States under the so-called comitology procedure, i.e. behind closed doors.

Only then – i.e. in a third step – can Germany and the other member states place their national orders. This is likely to take a few more days.

Then the vaccine will also have to be delivered. This is a logistical challenge, given the need to cool the Pfizer/Biontech product at -70 degrees.

The European Commission is already pointing out that some countries may be overburdened. It is possible that the “Civil Protection Mechanism” could then help, according to Brussels.

Last but not least, vaccinations must be organised locally. In Belgium, this should not be possible until mid-January, reports “Le Soir”.

Against this background, the reports that it is “starting now” and that vaccination will start “as early as next week” should be treated with caution.

Moreover, it is unclear whether the vaccines are actually having the promised effect. Possible weaknesses and side effects might only become apparent after a few weeks or months.

It is then unclear who is liable for possible risks and damage. The EU Commission, which negotiated the vaccine contracts, keeps all the details in the dark. Even the costs are not known…

The original post (in German) is here