Regulatory concepts to guide and promote the accelerated but safe clinical development and licensure of COVID-19 vaccines in Europe
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has affected the health of tens of millions of people worldwide. In particular in elderly and frail individuals the infection can lead to severe disease and even fatal outcomes. Although the pandemic is primarily a human health crisis its consequences are much broader with tremendous impact on globaleconomicsand social systems. Vaccines are considered the most powerful measure to fight the pandemic and protect people from COVID-19. Based on the concerted activities of scientists, manufacturers and regulators the urgent need for effective countermeasures has provoked the development and licensure of novel COVID-19 vaccines in an unprecedentedly fast and flexible manner within less than one year. To ensure the safety and efficacy of these novel vaccines during the clinical development and the routine use in post-licensure vaccination campaigns existing regulatory requirements and procedures had to be wisely and carefully adapted to allow for an expedited evaluation without compromising the thoroughness of theregulatory and scientific assessment. In this review we describe the regulatory procedures, concepts and requirements applied to guide and promote the highly accelerated development and licensure of safe and efficacious COVID-19 vaccines in Europe.