German health minister says COVID-19 vaccines to be approved “before Christmas”

The German health minister said on December 14 that the European Union’s regulatory agency must authorize COVID-19 vaccines before Christmas to end the devastating impact of the pandemic. The European Union Medicines Agency said it may need until December 29 to approve Pfizer and BioNtech and at least another four weeks until January 12 to approve the Moderna vaccine as it is still reviewing safety and efficacy data . German Health Minister Jens Spahn told public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk that he plans to start inoculating the population by the end of the year in the cold winter months, as people spend more time indoors. Germany has ordered up to 100 million doses of BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine and will begin vaccinating vulnerable people, nurses and doctors once the first batch arrives, the health minister said.

Pfizer, based in the USA, announced in a statement that it has requested the authorization of its vaccine called BNT162b2 with a 95% effectiveness in Europe. The announcement came simultaneously with rival US firm Moderna, which also said it had asked EU and US regulators for approval. “We know from the beginning of this journey that patients are waiting and ready to deliver doses of COVID-19 vaccine as soon as potential clearances allow,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement. In collaboration with the German pharmaceutical company BioNtech, Pfizer received approximately 375 million euros ($ 450 million) in funding for vaccine production and research.

Read: New York nurse becomes first American to receive COVID-19 vaccine, says “I trust science”

Read: COVID-19: US HHS Secretary warns Americans not to “drop guard” as vaccine arrives

To vaccinate 83 million

However, Spahn said he would first rely on safety data and, with the information he had received in recent days, would assume that the approval would only take place around the end of the year. Some studies need a little more to be presented, Spahn told local broadcasters in a press release, adding that something as important as vaccinating 83 million people was something to be prepared for. French President Emmanuel Macron and Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge have also said that mass vaccination could begin in the first week of January. To date, the EU bloc has signed for the transport of vaccines with AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, CureVac, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Sanofi-GlaxoSmithKline.

Read: Pentagon chief Christopher Miller receives COVID-19 vaccine, says “It didn’t hurt”

Read: US officials are looking to increase confidence in the vaccine