EU’s Michel Sees Covid Vaccine Approval ‘in Coming Weeks’

European Council President Charles Michel expects the first Covid vaccines to be approved in the European Union “in the coming weeks, maybe even before the end of the year,” he said in a France Inter radio interview on Sunday.

The EU decided to follow its regulatory process and “not to play” with approval, Michel said, adding that the U.K. used a loophole to clear the Covid vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE ahead of the European Medicines Agency. Britain’s drug regulator approved the vaccine for emergency use on Dec. 2, after an accelerated review process.

“We’re not losing time,” Michel said. “The health agencies are analyzing tens of thousands of pages of scientific data to ensure that on the basis of the performed trials, we can confidently make the vaccines available to the citizens.”

The EU is working to put in place a simultaneous vaccination drive that would allow all countries to start giving the Covid jabs over a period of a week to 10 days, to avoid a situation where some countries start administering the shot from January while others are months behind, Michel said.

“It’s easy to say, we’re going to start vaccination campaigns, it’s harder to succeed in deploying these vaccination campaigns,” he said.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine should be granted EU approval as soon as possible, because “all the necessary data are available.”

“It’s also about the trust of citizens in the ability of the European Union to act,” Spahn said Sunday in a tweet, adding that Germany is ready to begin vaccinations as soon as approval is granted.

“Every day that we can start vaccinating earlier reduces suffering and protects the most vulnerable,” Spahn said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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