The EU says it will start COVID-19 vaccines from 27 December

BERLIN (Reuters) -EU states begin vaccinating against COVID-19 in 10 days as Europe tries to catch up with Britain and the United States after some criticized as the EU’s slow approval process for the scenes.

The start date of December 27 – confirmed by the head of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen, Austria, Germany and Italy – will be almost three weeks after the first full-scale COVID-19 vaccine in the to give a world in England.

“In Germany, if the agreement is reached, we will start on December 27. The other EU countries want to be able to start and they want to start from 27 December, ”said Health Minister Jens Spahn ahead of an online meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel and officials from vaccine manufacturer BioNTech.

As a member of the EU, it is largely Germany’s duty to wait for the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to approve the vaccine. The EMA is expected to issue on December 21st.

An EU chief executive said on Wednesday that the bloc could issue its final approval for the vaccine, developed by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech, on 23 December.

Von der Leyen confirmed the proposed timetable for the start of inoculations for the 450 million citizens of the European Union.

“Vaccination will begin across the EU on 27, 28 and 29 December,” she wrote on Twitter. She had previously called for a coordinated start of same-day inoculations in the 27 EU countries.

Italy said it would begin vaccinating health workers on December 27, the Sunday after Christmas. Vaccinations will also begin in Austria on that date, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Twitter.

Britain, which left the EU early this year, approved the bullet on Dec. 3 for emergency use, followed by Canada on Dec. 9 and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Dec. 11.

In Britain, around 140,000 people have already got the jobs, BioNTech Chief Medical Officer Oezlem Tuereci said at an online event on Thursday.

According to Spahn, the vaccine should be available to all 27 EU member states at the same time, regardless of their financial strength, thanks to talks led by the European Commission said they were an “important indicator of European closeness”.

Merkel said Germany was looking forward to starting life-saving vaccines, a day after the country reported 952 coronavirus-related deaths, the highest daily number yet.

“If we look at the number of people dying from coronavirus now, we know how many people can be saved by this (vaccine),” she said.

Tuereci told BioNTech that the marathon was not over yet for the vaccine manufacturer.

“Our team here at BioNTech have worked through evenings and weekends, canceled holidays. They will continue over Christmas to ensure that delivery can take place quickly, ”she said.

Reporting by Ludwig Burger and Thomas Escritt; Written by Maria Sheahan and Keith Weir; Edited by Mark Heinrich and Andrew Heavens