"So far, overall, we are fairly confident that the vaccines generally cover this variant," Marco Cavaleri, the agency's head for vaccination strategy, told a virtual press conference.

Cavaleri said that "the data seems pretty secure in the sense that at least the vaccine with 'messenger RNA' (mRNA) technology will be effective in neutralising this variant, at least ensuring sufficient protection" against the disease, he reinforced.

The director of the department of Biological Health Threats and Vaccine Strategy indicated that the EMA also hopes that "the viral vector vaccine will also be effective", noting that more data collected in India, where Astrazeneca's viral vector vaccine is being used, is awaited.

When asked about the analysis of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, which has not yet been authorised for use by the EMA, Marco Cavaleri said that inspections of good manufacturing practice and good clinical production practice are ongoing, and that a timetable for potential approval for use in the European Union could be set "in the coming weeks".

Regarding the Chinese Sinovac, Cavaleri pointed out that the agency is still deciding when elements can be sent for analysis.