EU could approve two Covid vaccines in second half of December
The European Union may approve two coronavirus vaccines - those developed by Pfizer and Moderna - in the second half of December, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday. Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the favorable development around the vaccines offer "perspective" that are "welcomed everywhere". He praised the "added value of joint purchasing of vaccines," NU.nl reports.
"If everything goes without problems", the European Medicines Agency can conditionally approve the two promising vaccines "as early as the second half of December," Von der Leyen said after speaking with the leaders of the EU member states. Initially, only very small amounts of the vaccine will be available, she said, tempering expectations. "The large numbers will come later."
Prime Minister Rutte confirmed on Twitter that the positive reports of vaccines were discussed. "There's still a long way to go, but the reports show there's light at the end of the tunnel," he said. "Within the EU, we're keeping a close watch on the situation and working together where necessary and useful."
Over the past week, Pfizer and Moderna released the first promising results of phase 3 of their vaccine trials, which should show whether the vaccines really protect people against Covid-19. Pfizer announced that its vaccine seems to be over 90 percent effective. And Moderna said its vaccine proved to be 94.5 percent effective. Over 43,500 people are participating the Pfizer trial, and 30 thousand in the Moderna one.
The EU already signed contracts to buy millions of doses from both Pfizer and Moderna, as well as from other developers. The Netherlands will get 3.89 percent of the ordered vaccines. That is a maximum of 11.7 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and a maximum of 6.2 million doses of the Moderna vaccine.
On Thursday, the Health Council advised the government to vaccinate the elderly and people with other serious health problems like heart diseases or diabetes - those most vulnerable to Covid-19 - first in the current situation with a high number of infections. If infections fall by the time that vaccines are available, it may be wiser to vaccine young people, who have the most contacts, first, the Council said. It will provide more definite advice once more information is available.