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EU considers emergency approvals for Covid-19 vaccines

By Caoimhe Toman

Date: Tuesday 02 Mar 2021

LONDON (ShareCast) - (Sharecast News) - The European Commission said on Tuesday it was considering emergency approvals for Covid-19 vaccines.

The move would be an alternative to the more rigorous conditional marketing authorisations used so far. To date, emergency approvals have been considered dangerous as it could mean hasty use of treatments without the sufficient safety checks.

According to Reuters, this kind of procedure had been reserved for exceptional authorisations at the national level of drugs for terminally ill patients, including cancer treatments.

The potential change comes as the EU executive comes under pressure for what some consider slow vaccine approvals and rollouts.

"We are ready to reflect with the member states on all possible avenues to indeed accelerate the approval of the vaccines," an EU Commission spokesman told a news conference.

One option could be "an emergency authorisation of vaccines at EU level with shared liability among member states", the spokesman said.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) cannot currently issue emergency approvals but in exceptional circumstances has recommended the compassionate use of drugs before marketing authorisation, said Reuters.

Regarding Covid, the EMA approved Gilead's antiviral drug remdesivir as a treatment against the illness. The drug was later given conditional approval by EMA.

Some Eastern European countries, including Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have already approved Russian and Chinese vaccines with national emergency procedures.