Technology of Hope: COVID-19 Vaccine Could Be Approved in EU by Year’s End

Written by | Friday, December 4th, 2020
@Eubulletin

The UK will be the first Western country to offer the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to the public after a regulator approved the vaccine in record time. Due to be rolled out from next week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the vaccine will let people “reclaim their lives.” US pharmaceutical company Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech have also requested authorisation from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to allow emergency use of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate. European countries were on Tuesday (1 December) given a clear timeframe for the start of their vaccination programmes after the EU’s medicines regulator said it would decide by 29 December whether to grant emergency approval for the first COVID-19 jabs.
Meanwhile, new COVID-19 infections in France stayed below 10,000 for the third day in a row on Tuesday, a sequence unseen since mid-September, and the number of people hospitalised resumed a downward trend. The government has loosened its second national lockdown, put in place on 30 October, by allowing all shops to reopen at the weekend. In Austria, the government has announced a nationwide mass coronavirus testing scheme, mirroring that which was largely seen as a success in neighbouring Slovakia. For anyone wanting to take part in the testing scheme, they were asked to register online from midnight 1 December. Austria has also been reported to likely bow to pressure on COVID risk with ski holiday ban. Following heated disagreements between Vienna and Berlin, Austria’s government appears to have bowed to pressure from Germany, France and Italy and will ban skiing holidays over the Christmas break in an attempt to control the coronavirus pandemic.
If the COVID-19 vaccine is finally approved by EMA in late December, France plans to prioritise the most fragile and exposed groups in early 2021, followed by a second campaign for the rest of the population between April and June, the president Emmanuel Macron announced. Germany has already said it is hoping to launch its immunisation drive in the first quarter of 2021 and is preparing vaccination centres across the country. Hopes that shots could be ready for use by year’s end received a boost after US firm Moderna filed Monday (30 November) for emergency authorisation of its vaccine in the US and EU. Large-scale trial data released last month showed that both vaccines were safe and around 95% effective against the virus. European Commission spokesman Stefan de Keersmaecker told reporters that once the EMA gave regulatory permission, formal authorisation from Brussels would follow “very quickly”, probably “in a matter of days”.

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