Life will only return to normal once a coronavirus vaccine becomes widely available, said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Researchers are working “flat out” to find a vaccine, with two of “the most promising teams” located in Europe aiming to start trials “soon,” she said in an interview with German newspaper Bild published Sunday.
The Commission president also shifted her predicted timeline for a vaccine, saying: “I hope they will have developed a vaccine by the end of the year.”
Von der Leyen had originally said a vaccine could be on the market by fall, after discussions with German biotech company CureVac. Experts have largely contradicted this timeline, saying a vaccine is at least a year away.
After a vaccine is developed, it must be approved by regulators and produced on a mass scale. “We are already talking to manufacturers about global production capacities so that the vaccine can be tested quickly,” she said.
Von der Leyen also said the Commission plans to unveil its exit strategy “in the coming days,” though she stressed that countries “are at very different stages of the pandemic, and each country decides for itself.”
The Commission had originally planned to release the strategy last week, but chose to delay after anger from member countries.
When asked if she was ultimately “powerless” because countries can do what they want, von der Leyen replied that she does not want to make a central decision because the situation differs between countries within the EU, and between rural and urban areas.