With new cases affecting about 100,000 people a day, Europe has far surpassed the United States, with an average of more than 51,000 COVID-19 infections reported each day.

“Time is running out,” said EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, calling for greater coordination in the detection of infections.

“Everyone’s first priority should be to do whatever it takes to avoid the devastating consequences of widespread quarantine,” Kyriakides said.

She also called on EU governments to adopt a common strategy for launching vaccines as soon as they become available, giving priority to vaccinations for the most vulnerable.

There is little time left for such preparations, as the first vaccines could be available early next year, Kyriakides added.

Health policy is a national prerogative in the bloc of 27 countries, and the EU Commission can only make recommendations for joint measures.

Hospitals and vaccination services should be adequately equipped with skilled workers, equipped with the necessary protective equipment, the commission said, urging governments to avoid shortcomings in March, when the epidemic broke out.

Vaccines should first be made available to the most vulnerable groups, which include health care workers and long-term care centers, people over the age of 60, those with chronic illnesses, key workers and disadvantaged socio-economic groups. .

A conservative estimate made by the Commission in July puts people in “priority groups” at more than 200 million, out of a total EU population of 450 million.

Kyriakides said on Thursday that the part of the EU population to be prioritized will be decided on the basis of available vaccines.

The Commission also called on EU governments to prepare for the possible distribution of vaccines that may need to be stored at extremely low temperatures.