Despite several deals securing more than 1 billion doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine, government officials do not expect to be able to vaccinate the full European Union population until 2022, officials reportedly said at a meeting on Monday.
“There will not be sufficient doses of COVID-19 vaccines for the entire population before the end of 2021,” a European Commission official told diplomats during a closed-door meeting on Monday, according to Reuters.
The majority of nations in the EU, including Belgium, Austria, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands are implementing or considering restrictions on travel, dining, gatherings and more due to a surge in coronavirus cases.
This week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly warned that the country’s health system is being pushed to the brink amid the recent increase in cases. Spain has instituted a nationwide curfew and is mulling potential travel bans to hard-hit areas. In France, a doctor told a radio station that the country has “lost control” of the epidemic and should consider another lockdown.
“We lost control of the epidemic but that doesn’t date from yesterday,” Dr. Eric Caumes, head of infections and tropical disease at Paris’ Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital, said, according to the Associated Press. “We lost control of the epidemic several weeks ago already.”
Several challenges to distributing a potential vaccine have been voiced by regulators and experts all over the world. Storage demands and application training are among the chief concerns, with some cautioning that such hurdles could delay delivering the vaccine in remote or hard-to-reach regions. As a result, officials have been asking governments to devise a plan to distribute the vaccine to the most vulnerable populations.
The European Medicine Agency, the EU’s drug regulator, has previously stated that it would approve a coronavirus vaccine even if it was below 50% effective but proved safe to use. The EU has already secured doses of potential vaccines from AstraZeneca, Sanofi and Johnson & Johnson, according to Reuters.
As of Tuesday, the world had seen more than 42.6 million cases of coronavirus, with the U.S., India, Brazil, Russia and France seeing the highest amount of infection.