“In a few weeks, Africa and our neighbours could be facing the same enormous challenges that we here in Europe are currently facing,” said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said she is hopeful that a vaccine against the novel coronavirus can be developed by the end of this year.

In her opinion, two of the most promising research teams are based in Europe, von der Leyen told the German Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

“I hope they develop a vaccine towards the end of the year,” the EU politician asserted, noting that there are plans to start clinical tests soon. Details were not released.

A series of steps would follow to get a vaccine approved and into mass production.

For a swift vaccination campaign, the EU was already talking to manufacturers about global production capacities, von der Leyen added.

According to the newspaper report, von der Leyen anticipates that restrictions on visits to old people’s homes will need to remain in place because of the coronavirus.

“Without a vaccine, contacts to senior citizens must be restricted as far as possible.

“I know that is difficult and loneliness is oppressive.

“But it’s about life. We have to stay disciplined and be very patient.

“We will have to learn to live with the virus for many months, probably until next year,” von der Leyen told Bild am Sonnntag.

The EU Commission president believes that schools and daycare centres could re-open earlier: “Children and adolescents will have more freedom of movement sooner than old people and people with previous illnesses.”

The EU is expected to present planning for its exit strategy on the gradual removal of coronavirus restrictions this week.

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