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Germany hopeful of earlier EU vaccine approval

December 15, 2020

The European Union's medicines agency has moved forward a meeting to assess the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for provisional approval to December 21.

Symbolbild Corona Impfstoff Biontech und Pfizer
Image: Joel Saget/AFP

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is planning to issue its decision on the BioNTech and Pfizer vaccine on December 21, eight days earlier than planned.

The EU has come under increasing pressure to approve the vaccine, following emergency approvals from the UK and the US earlier this month.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn, speaking at a joint press conference with the Robert Koch Institute, the government agency responsible for disease control and prevention, said the report was "good news." 

German Health Minister Jens Spahn seen earlier this month
German Health Minister Jens Spahn welcomed the news of an earlier dateImage: Daniel Karmann/dpa/picture alliance

A fortnight ago, BioNTech and Pfizer submitted an application to the EMA for a conditional marketing authorization for their COVID-19 vaccine.

The vaccine is currently considered one of the promising potential means of containing the Corona pandemic.

Covid vaccine not a 'magic wand'

President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen tweeted that she welcomed the EMA's decision to bring the meeting forward.

She added: "Likely that the first Europeans will be vaccinated before end 2020!"

Speaking to DW, Yannis Natsis, policy manager at the Belgium-based NGO, European Public Health Alliance, said it was important for politicians not to raise expectations about the vaccine: "Vaccines will not be the magic wand politicians expect them to be."

"I understand the pressure, I understand the emergency, but we need to be careful. We need to be meticulous — this cannot be rushed," he added. 

Natsis added that that letting "regulators do their job" would ensure confidence in the vaccine. 

In addition to the BioNTech and Pfizer vaccine, the bloc has signed contracts with AstraZeneca, CureVac, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Sanofi-GlaxoSmithKline.

If all of these vaccines were to be approved, that would give the European Union up to 2 billion doses for 450 million residents.

More than 1.6 million people have died from COVID-19 worldwide since the outbreak of the virus earlier this year.

kmm, jf/msh (dpa, Reuters)

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