Prime Minister Mitsotakis stressed the need to speed up the European Union’s vaccine approval process in an European Council videoconference on the EU’s strategy for dealing with the pandemic late on Thursday.
According to government sources, the Prime Minister, together with Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Denmark’s Prime Minister Merte Frederiksen, said it was essential to speed up the licensing of vaccines that are in the final stage of evaluation by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) — such as that developed by Oxford University, in collaboration with AstraZeneca.
Mitsotakis also noted that Europe must henceforth ensure that it takes the lead in developments on the licensing front, the sources said, especially with regard to the approval of vaccines that require a single dose or which do not require ultra-cold storage, which could transform the roll-out of national vaccination campaigns.
He clarified that the three EU leaders’ initiative does not seek to exert political pressure on the EMA but to bypass time-consuming bureaucratic procedures, which delay decisions which are already based on sound scientific criteria.
“No time to lose”
In his speeches, the same sources reported, Mitsotakis additionally stressed the need to fully comply with the vaccine delivery schedules agreed with the pharmaceutical companies for the first quarter of 2021, underlining that in the fight against Covid-19 there is simply no time to lose.
At the same time, the Prime Minister presented his proposal for establishing a European vaccination certificate, clarifying that the initial aim is to reach an agreement on its technical specifications and to standardize its form.
He said this would enable the appropriate preparations to be made, so that Europe will be ready to discuss its use when the percentage of European citizens who have been vaccinated has increased significantly.
In addition, regarding the emergence of mutant coronavirus strains, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of an exchange of best practices between the EU member nations on how they can be tackled effectively.
Vaccinations become available for Greek citizens aged 80-84
Vaccination appointments for citizens between the ages of 80-84 will become available beginning at 6:00 PM today, Friday, according to Health Ministry Secretary General for Primary Health Care, Marios Themistokleous, who spoke at a live briefing on Thursday.
Some 123,077 citizens have been inoculated in Greece so far, he added, which translates to 1.13 percent of the country’s population.
Epidemiological data on infection rate still troubling
Speaking at the same briefing, Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said that the figures produced by the country’s current epidemiological profile continue to keep health experts concerned, as there is a slight increase in new daily cases of infection compared to last week, with an average of 440 cases per day.
The median age of those newly diagnosed with Covid-19 is just 46 years, and the number of active cases in the Attica region at the moment is 2,304.
Keeping up with all the pertinent safety restrictions is still key, stressed the Minister, before noting that the pandemic’s burden on the national health system’s intensive care units has subsided considerably, since, thankfully, at least half of all Covid-19 ICU beds in Athens and Thessaloniki are currently unoccupied.