Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech are in a tight race to launch their COVID-19 vaccines in Europe after applying for urgent EU approval on Tuesday, but there was uncertainty as to whether a rollout could begin this year.
Applications to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) came one day after Moderna’s search for emergency use for its needle in the United States and more than a week after Pfizer and BioNTech did the same.
US drug maker Pfizer and German development partner BioNTech said their vaccines could be launched in the European Union earlier this month.
“We can start to deliver within a few hours (of an approval),” said Sierk Poetting, head of operations and finance at BioNTech. “We have been stocking up. And everything that is there can really be distributed within a few hours.”
The EMA blurred the timeline when it said it would complete its review for this vaccine by December 29 at the latest and January 12 for Moderna’s shoot. He added that as the assessment progresses, the program could change.
The European Commission, the EU executive body, said it would most likely give final authorization to make a vaccine available after the EMA’s recommendation.
An effective vaccination is seen as the main weapon against the epidemic that has claimed more than 1.4 million lives worldwide and devastated economies. Around 50 potential vaccines are tested on volunteers worldwide.
Both the US biotech firm Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech reported preliminary findings of more than 90% efficacy (an unexpectedly high rate) in trials of their vaccines, both based on the new messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. -reuters-