The European Medicines Agency will on Monday evaluate the COVID-19 vaccine, developed jointly by the American company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, with the green light to put Europe on track to start vaccinations within a week.
EU countries including Germany, Austria and Italy have said they plan to launch vaccinations from December 27 when Europe tries to catch up with the United States and Britain, where rollout began earlier this month.
If approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the last hurdle is approval by the European Commission, which is expected to follow on Wednesday.
Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen has already focused on starting vaccinations during the period 27-29 December, almost immediately after Christmas.
Student medicine, retired doctors, pharmacists and soldiers are being prepared for a European vaccination campaign of unprecedented scale.
A phased-in method means that frontline healthcare staff and elderly residents in nursing homes are given priority, and most national systems will not reach the public until the end of the first quarter of 2021 at the earliest.
The goal for the EU’s 27 members is still to cover 70% of its 450 million people.
On Saturday, the Swiss Medicines Agency approved the vaccine for use in people over 16 years of age.