EU to speed approval of variant-modified coronavirus vaccines - paper

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FRANKFURT, Feb 14 (Reuters) - The European Union will fasttrack approvals of coronavirus vaccines adapted to combatmutations, the bloc's Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides saidin a newspaper interview on Sunday.

"We have now decided that a vaccine that has been improvedby the manufacturer on the basis of the previous vaccine tocombat new mutations no longer has to go through the entireapproval process," she told Bavaria's Augsburger Allgemeine.

"So it will be faster to have suitable vaccines availablewithout compromising on safety."

The European Commission has come under fire from EU memberstates over delays to deliveries of vaccines which has seen thebloc lag behind countries such as Britain, a former member, andthe United States.

Kyriakides is a member of a new task force, led by IndustryCommissioner Thierry Breton, to eliminate bottlenecks inproduction plants and adjust output to new variants.

While vaccinations in the first quarter of 2021 have startedslowly, the second quarter would see a pick-up and by the end ofSeptember the EU expects to have received sufficient doses fromlicenced producers to cover over 70% of its population,Kyriakides said.

She also reiterated the Commission view that closing borderswas not an effective weapon against infections.

"I think it is wrong for us to return to a Europe withclosed borders, as in March 2020," she said.

Germany will enforce entry bans on travellers from the CzechRepublic and Austria's Tyrol region from Sunday to prevent thespread of new variants.(Reporting by Vera Eckert; Editing by Mike Harrison)

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