EU eyes COVID-19 vaccinations ‘as soon as possible’

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Addressing MEPs on Wednesday, the chief of the EU Executive, Ursula von der Leyen has stressed the need to start the vaccinations across member-states “as soon as possible”, in a bid to “get to the end” of the Coronavirus pandemic. 

“To get to the end of the pandemic, we will need up to 70% of the population vaccinated,” von der Leyen said, before adding that the move is a “huge task” for the bloc. 

“So let us start as soon as possible with the vaccination, together, as 27, with a start at the same day,” she added during the parliament’s plenary session in Brussels, citing that the common move could work as a sign of the bloc’s unity.

The Commission President’s comments came a day after Europe’s Medicines Agency (EMA) confirmed that the evaluation meeting for the approval of the vaccine candidate developed by US drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, is brought forward a week to December 21 instead of December 29.

The announcement by EMA followed increased pressure by Germany, whose Health Minister Jens Spahn asked for the approval of the COVID-19 vaccine candidate before Christmas. 

“Every day counts – we work at full speed to authorise COVID-19 vaccines that are safe and effective,” von der Leyen wrote in a Twitter post on Tuesday, welcoming EMA’s move to discuss the Pfizer vaccine authorisation earlier than planned. 

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