COVID-19: Vaccinations In EU May Begin Early January

Reading Time: < 1 minutes

Immunisation against COVID-19 in the European Union (EU) could start in January if all elements of the bloc’s deal with British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca fall into place, Austrian Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said yesterday.

The European Commission announced last week that it had signed a deal for the EU-wide supply of up to 400 million doses of the potential vaccine, which is currently being tested in clinical trials.

The target of early next year hinges on whether the companies involved can fulfill their commitments, Anschober said at a news conference in Vienna.

“The second condition is that market approval is granted in time,” he added.

The EU executive body in Brussels does not place all its bets on AstraZeneca, but is also negotiating with other companies racing to develop a vaccine, including Sanofi, GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Curevac and Moderna.

Under the EU deal with AstraZeneca, Austria would get around 600,000 doses to immunise 300,000 people.

Schools reopened in France yesterday after the summer break, with face masks obligatory for teachers and for all children aged 11 or over.

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said that all children would have to go back to school unless they had a good reason, and parents should not be afraid.

France already opened almost all schools gradually in the last weeks of term before the summer, with authorities anxious for children to make up ground lost during a virus lockdown from mid-March to mid-May.

The country was one of the hardest-hit in Europe by the coronavirus epidemic, with more than 30,000 deaths.

Infections have been rising rapidly again in recent weeks, at more than 5,000 daily for most of the last week compared with under 1,000 daily for the first three weeks of July.