German Minister of Health Jens Spann stated on Tuesday that his country is counting on approving the coronavirus vaccine “before Christmas,” as the EU body responsible for giving the green light will begin examining the vaccine on December 21.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) will meet on December 21 to discuss the newly-released Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is already in use in the UK, the US, Canada and several other nations globally.
Officials from the EMA have stated that they expect to arrive at has a decision “by December 29 at the latest.”
“The goal is to get an approval before Christmas, we want to start vaccination before the end of the year,” said the German Health Minister, after it became clear that the German government was losing patience with the time it was taking on European regulators to approve a vaccine already in use by many countries.
According to a report in the German newspaper Bild, citing sources in the European Union and the German government, the European Medicines Agency has finally decided to speed up its decision, reportedly targeting December 23 as the day that the vaccine will receive the go-ahead for use in the EU.
An EMA spokesman told Agence France Presse “We are continuing to work on the date of December 29 at the latest. At the moment, nothing has changed.”
Germany, facing an especially severe second wave of the epidemic, is putting behind-the-scenes pressure on the EMA and the European Union to speed up the vaccine approval process developed by German biotechnology company BioNTech in partnership with the US pharmaceutical company Pfizer.
Many countries, including the United States, Britain and Canada, have already started vaccinations in recent days, following receiving the green light from their regulators, with a great many health care workers and nursing home residents already receiving the shots.
In response to the outbreak of the epidemic, Germany is imposing lockdown measures beginning tomorrow by closing shops and schools and re-instituting the strict recommendations for remote work if at all possible.
Restaurants, cafes, bars, cultural and sports venues in Germany have been closed since the beginning of November.
“We find that a third wave actually begins to form before the second weakens,” Spann warned in his Tuesday remarks.
Germany has recorded 14,432 coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, but the Robert Koch Institute has warned that the numbers for the next 24 hours will increase even from that level, as figures from Saxony, one of Germany’s worst-hit regions, were not taken into account in today’s report.
Last week, the number of new daily cases in Germany reached 30,000, a level never before reached in that country.