Brussels: Countries in the European Union are to start vaccinating people as of December 27, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.
Some countries will begin rolling out the vaccine on December 28 or 29, von der Leyen said in a tweet, adding, “We protect our citizens together. We are #StrongerTogether.”
The plan depends on the authorization of the vaccine manufactured jointly by BioNTech and Pfizer, European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer said. A recommendation is expected on December 21 by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The commission could then decide on its approval within two days.
The companies want to start deliveries on December 26, Mamer said. Meanwhile, the EMA announced it would decide on whether to authorize Moderna’s vaccine against Covid-19 on January 6, six days sooner than planned.
The EMA initially said it would reach a decision on January 12, but the US pharmaceutical firm delivered a last package of data on Thursday, earlier than expected.
“This contains information that is specific to the manufacturing of the vaccine for the EU market,” EMA said in a statement.
This means the Moderna vaccine could be the second to be approved in the European Union, after the decision on the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine.
The latter vaccine is already being administered in Britain, the United States and Canada following emergency approval procedures by those countries’ national regulators.
In the Netherlands, there are plans to begin vaccinating people on January 8, the Health Ministry said on Thursday, if the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is approved as planned.
Italy’s vaccination plan will start “symbolically” in late December and expand in January, government coronavirus crisis commissioner Domenico Arcuri said in an interview.
If Italian and European medical agencies stick to the planned timeline of authorizations, the plan will begin “symbolically at the end of December. And massively in early January,” Arcuri said.