Is Europe late in Covid vaccine? A question pediatrist, immunologist and head of the vaccine strategy board Alain Fischer answered to on France Inter, explaining the continent definitely was not behind other countries such as the United-Kingdom, the United States of America or even Canada as they have started to vaccinate.
“The word late is not right” the immunologist says. He goes on: “thoroughness is necessary, this is the key element, whether these vaccines have been approved as reasonably safe and effective. The balance between advantages and risks shall be extremely favorable and we will get to it, but we need to let the authorities finish their work first”. The most important thing, according to Alain Fischer, is the vaccine effectiveness: “In a year from now, when we will recall what happened, we forget the day we started to vaccinate, but not their effectiveness”, he adds.
And cautiousness is key, especially when we know nursing home residents will be vaccinated first: “we need conditions to meet, there is an impressive logistic to bring vaccines, this is a heavy task. We need to respect vaccination ethic, consent is harder to get in these places, we need collected consent” Alain Fischer says.
As for the effectiveness of vaccine, even though short-termed data are already available, it is better to wait longer to get a better idea: “What we know of the data from phase 3 when 20,000 people have been given the vaccine, is that it protects very effectively from risks of developing clinical signs of the disease. It also protects from severe forms, but we cannot say about contamination”, he explains. As for the life span of immunity? “By definition, we do not know. Perspective for phase 3 reaches three months, time will tell. We will use immunologic data, but it is the pursuit of studies that will enable us to tell” he concludes.
For the record, vaccinations are to start in Europe the same day, a bit before the end of December, after Angela Merkel put pressure on the European Medicines Agency to make approval processes move faster. In France, Jean Castex is expected to detail the government’s vaccination plan this Wednesday December 16, 2020 at the National Assembly.