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EU to speed approval of variant-modified coronavirus vaccines - paper

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Vials labelled "COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine" and sryinge are seen in front of displayed EU flag in this illustration taken, February 9, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

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FRANKFURT, Feb 14 (Reuters) - The European Union will fast track approvals of coronavirus vaccines adapted to combat mutations, the bloc's Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said in a newspaper interview on Sunday.

"We have now decided that a vaccine that has been improved by the manufacturer on the basis of the previous vaccine to combat new mutations no longer has to go through the entire approval process," she told Bavaria's Augsburger Allgemeine.

"So it will be faster to have suitable vaccines available without compromising on safety."

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The European Commission has come under fire from EU member states over delays to deliveries of vaccines which has seen the bloc lag behind countries such as Britain, a former member, and the United States. read more

Kyriakides is a member of a new task force, led by Industry Commissioner Thierry Breton, to eliminate bottlenecks in production plants and adjust output to new variants.

While vaccinations in the first quarter of 2021 have started slowly, the second quarter would see a pick-up and by the end of September the EU expects to have received sufficient doses from licenced producers to cover over 70% of its population, Kyriakides said.

She also reiterated the Commission view that closing borders was not an effective weapon against infections.

"I think it is wrong for us to return to a Europe with closed borders, as in March 2020," she said.

Germany will enforce entry bans on travellers from the Czech Republic and Austria's Tyrol region from Sunday to prevent the spread of new variants.

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Reporting by Vera Eckert; Editing by Mike Harrison

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