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The European Union stands ready to help pharmaceutical companies ramp up coronavirus vaccine production to remove a “bottleneck” in distribution, the chief health official said on Saturday.

Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides told the German news agency DPA that any delay in the release of approved vaccines was due to a lack of production capacity and not to EU planning.

“The current bottleneck is not the volume of orders, but the global lack of production capacity,” she said in the comments distributed by her office.

Kyriakides noted that Brussels had given 100 million euros to German company BioNTech, which had developed a vaccine with US giant Pfizer, to help build production capacity.

And she said the block was ready to do more for Pfizer-BioNTech and other vaccine candidate companies once the vaccination campaign gets underway.

“The situation will improve step by step”, she promised a week after the start of vaccinations in the EU member states in very different steps.

“We have been negotiating additional vaccine doses from BioNTech for a long time and are again ready to help expand production capacities.

“Other manufacturers with whom we have contracts are about to get their vaccines approved by the EU.”

The European Medicines Agency, which advises the European Commission, approved the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine on December 21st.

However, it is not expected that a decision on a possible alternative from the US company Moderna will be made by January 6.

And it is waiting for more data on an AstraZeneca and Oxford University candidate who has already been approved in the UK.

However, Kyriakides insisted that Europe should not fall behind in its joint procurement program supported by the 27 Member States.

“If all vaccine candidates are approved, there will be more than two billion vaccine doses in Europe for all 450 million Europeans and their neighbors,” she said.

“And that’s what it’s all about: Europe can get out of this crisis the fastest together.”

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