The EU’s top scientific adviser, Belgian microbiologist Peter Piot, has cautioned hopes that the coronavirus will be over soon. Without a vaccine, and unless the structure of the virus changes and becomes less lethal, the two options continue to be herd immunity at the expense of millions of deaths, or continued lockdowns that devastate European economies. While there are many promising trials of vaccines, extensive testing would be needed, not least to convince the significant number of vaccine sceptics in Europe. Even when a vaccine becomes available, Commission estimates predict that only a monthly maximum of 50 million doses could be distributed throughout the EU. (Source: EU Observer)
EU leaders had a videoconference on 29 October to consult further steps to coordinate their response to the second wave of the coronavirus outbreak. In the press conference that followed, Commission President von der Leyen recounted the five priorities that were discussed: infection data sharing, exchanges on case experience and analysis, more coordinated PCR and rapid antigen testing, sharing of tracing information (the full compatibility of functionally similar COVID-19 apps should be achieved in November), and a coordinated vaccination strategy, for which Member States are asked to submit their national strategies. The previous day, von der Leyen had reminded Europeans that they should avoid the “three Cs”: crowds, close contacts, and closed spaces with poor ventilation.