Tuesday. 27.02.2024

Countries in the European Union are to start vaccinating people as of 27 December, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday.

Some countries will begin rolling out the vaccine on 28 or 29 December, 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 Pfizer and BioNTech, European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer said. A recommendation is expected on 21 December by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The commission could then decide on its approval within two days.

The companies want to start deliveries on 26 December, Mamer said.

Meanwhile, the EMA announced on Thursday it would decide on whether to authorize Moderna's vaccine against Covid-19 on 6 January, six days sooner than planned.

The EMA initially said it would reach a decision on 12 January, 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.

Emergency approval 

This means the Moderna vaccine could be the second to be approved in the European Union, after the decision on the Pfizer-BioNTech 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 8 January, the Health Ministry said on Thursday, if the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is approved as planned.

Meanwhile, 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.

Arcuri told the Corriere della Sera newspaper that everything was ready in terms of logistics. "We will not waste a single minute," he said.

EU countries to start vaccinating against coronavirus from 27 December