Wed, 23 Sep 2020

BERLIN, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- The first vaccine against COVID-19 may be available towards the end of this year or early next year, German newspaper Handelsblatt reported on Monday, quoting European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides.

"Although making predictions is risky at this stage, we have good indications," Kyriakides told the newspaper.

Kyriakides said the vaccine may not solve all the problems right away, but will "gradually allow a return to normality" once a "critical mass of citizens, especially among the risk groups" have been vaccinated.

The commissioner expressed concern over rising infection rates across the European Union (EU), saying, "we are seeing an increasing number of smaller and larger outbreaks in several member states." She called on EU countries to locally control infection source with "testing, contact tracing and immediate isolation."

Kyriakides didn't exclude the possibility that some member states might again take drastic restriction measures as in March and April. "The uncertainties surrounding the virus remain... We must remain vigilant and not let our guard down to avoid a second lockdown," she warned, adding that the EU is better prepared than at the beginning of the crisis.

Kyriakides said the coronavirus warning apps now available in member states should be "merged into one portal so that they can be used throughout the EU." The official also hoped the pilot phase of the portal could start in early September.

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