A delay within the introduction of vaccines is the best danger to the financial restoration, in response to the ECB member


The Governor of the Bank of Greece, Yannis Stournaras, gives a speech at a meeting of the bank's shareholders.


LONDON – A possible delay in the distribution of coronavirus vaccines is the greatest risk to economic recovery in the euro zone, a member of the European Central Bank told CNBC.

Three separate vaccine trials published promising data in November, with images from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna showing efficacy rates in excess of 90%. These developments have boosted financial markets and supported the idea that the pandemic and subsequent economic crisis could end sooner than expected.

However, Yannis Stournaras, governor of Greece's central bank, said delays in introducing these vaccines could hurt economic recovery.

"Maybe (vaccination) delays that are not obvious at the moment," he told CNBC when asked about his main economic risks for the euro area.

"Delays in vaccination could be a risk if it happens – but I don't expect it from the information we have," said Stournaras, who is also a member of the ECB, on Tuesday.

Spreading vaccines around the world while maintaining the necessary preservation conditions is the next major challenge in addressing the public health emergency.

The regulatory authorities must first approve the rollout. The UK was the first country to approve the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine on Wednesday. The vaccinations should be done next week.

The European Medicines Agency has announced that it will not give its opinion on the work of Pfizer-BioNTech until December 29th. This suggests that vaccinations in continental Europe are unlikely to start before the end of the year.

In a note released last week, Goldman Sachs researchers explained how vaccines could stimulate economic recovery, but also highlighted some downside risks. The bank believed that global population demand for vaccines was below expectations and cited problems with AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson recordings.

"This scenario shows slower vaccinations in Europe that are more dependent on these developers (AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson), but also less medium-term vaccinations elsewhere due to weaker demand that appears most fragile in the US and Japan," the researchers wrote .

Focus on next week's ECB meeting

ECB President Christine Lagarde warned last month that despite advances in Covid-19 vaccines, there could still be "recurring cycles of accelerating the spread of the virus and tightening restrictions".

This would create further economic problems at a time when the euro area is facing one of the deepest crises in its history.

The gross domestic product of the 19-person bloc is expected to shrink again in the fourth quarter and drop by around 8% for 2020 as a whole.

As a result, the central bank will announce further monetary stimulus next week.

"Everything will be on the table," said Stournaras when asked which instruments the ECB will change on December 10th.

"But in my opinion, it is likely that the instruments that have been successful since the pandemic began – PEPP and TLTRO – will be the two candidates for recalibration, without ruling out anything, of course," he said.

In a speech last month, Lagarde also suggested that the central bank will likely cut borrowing costs for banks (as part of its targeted longer-term refinancing operations, or TLTROs) and adjust its pandemic-related asset purchase program known as PEPP (Pandemic Emergency) Purchase program).


Katherine Clark