Elderly people may have to be kept isolated until the end of the year to protect them from the coronavirus, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said in comments published Sunday.
"Without a vaccine, we have to limit as much as possible contact with the elderly," she told the Germany daily Bild.
"I know it's difficult and that isolation is a burden, but it is a question of life or death, we have to remain disciplined and patient," she added.
"Children and young people will enjoy more freedom of movement earlier than elderly people and those with preexisting medical conditions," she said.
She said she hoped that a European laboratory would develop a vaccine towards the end of the year.
To ensure that people can be quickly vaccinated, authorities are already in talks with producers on gearing up for world production, she added.