The European Union (EU) drug regulator recommended the BioNTech-Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for use on Monday, raising hopes that the 27 nations in the bloc can begin administering the first shots to their citizens shortly after Christmas.
The move by the European Medicines Agency comes weeks after the same vaccine was authorized in Britain and the United States, prompting pressure from EU governments for the agency to speed up its process as virus cases surged again across the continent.
Adding to an already grisly toll were concerns over a newly identified strain that appears to spread more easily. But experts expressed confidence that the new vaccine would still be effective against it.
“This is really a historic scientific achievement,” Emer Cooke, the head of the drug regulator, said after a closed-door meeting in which experts unanimously recommended the shot for people over 16. “It is a significant step forward in our fight against the pandemic.”
The conditional marketing authorization, as its known, needs to be rubber-stamped by the EU’s executive branch, a move its chief said is likely to happen on Monday evening.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted that the recommendation was “a decisive moment in our efforts to deliver safe and effective vaccines to Europeans!”
“Now we will act fast,” she said. SOVEREIGNPH