Vaccinations will save lives, not vaccines, says EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides

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By Euronews
Trucks wait outside of loading bays at Pfizer Manufacturing in Puurs, Belgium on Monday, Dec. 21, 2020.
Trucks wait outside of loading bays at Pfizer Manufacturing in Puurs, Belgium on Monday, Dec. 21, 2020.   -  Copyright  Valentin Bianchi/AP

The European Commissioner for Health has told Euronews that ensuring people receive vaccinations against COVID-19 will be key to ending the pandemic.

Following the approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus jab by the European Medicines Agency on Monday, Stella Kyriakides said that convincing the public they are safe to take is the most important thing.

"It's not vaccines that are going to save lives, it's vaccinations," she explained to Euronews. "And I would ask citizens to trust that the way we have moved forward is so that we have a safe and effective vaccine, and they need to respond to this call to be vaccinated when it is their turn in their member states."

But Kyriakides added: "It was a priority to follow the decision of the conditional marketing authorisation to be issued by the European Medicines Agency, putting first of all, of course, efficacy and safety. It is important that we move quickly, but for ourselves and to gain the trust of the citizens. It is also important that safety is always a key issue."

However, there has been criticism that the process was too slow in Europe as vaccinations started earlier in the US and the UK.

But Kyriakides defended the EU's approach, telling Euronews that it was a matter of "solidarity", rather than speed.

"The key principles of the EU vaccination strategy from the beginning were fairness and equal access and I believe that we have achieved this, that all member states will receive doses on the basis of their population..." she said. "This is European solidarity in action."

Asked on a potential third wave of COVID-19 in Europe, Kyriakides was keen to see it avoided.

"Of course, we are very concerned with what it would mean if measures are relaxed too quickly at Christmas and New Year," she told Euronews. "We have seen the repercussions of this in the past. We cannot afford to have a further increase in cases because we relax measures."