Europe pushes forward trials of gene-engineered COVID-19 vaccine

File photo by EPA-EFE/DIEGO AZUBEL

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European officials aim to speed up trials for coronavirus vaccines containing genetically modified organisms, two EU sources told Reuters, in a move that could help shots developed by companies like AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

The European Commission is expected to put forward the plans as early as next week. They are part of a wider EU strategy aimed at securing enough doses of a possible vaccine for the bloc as it fears lagging behind the United States and China.

The reform is expected to reduce member states’ power to impose extra requirements on drug companies when they conduct clinical trials on medicines and vaccines containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), according to the sources.

In some countries like Italy and France, for example, treatments must receive authorisation from government environment or research departments, as well as from health and drug authorities, under rules that are up to 20 years old and also cover the more publicly sensitive area of GMO crops.

This has long caused bottlenecks in a pharmaceutical industry that increasing relies on genetic engineering.

Reuters

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