The goal of the move was to alleviate dissatisfaction with the low supply of Pfizer vaccines and the longer approval process in the EU.
The Moderna vaccine was authorised by the European Medicines Agency. This is the second coronavirus vaccine that has been approved for general use in the EU, though tensions have continued to escalate over the sluggish progress of EU vaccination programs.
The Amsterdam regulator said Wednesday that it had given conditional marketing approval for the Covid-19 adult vaccine from Moderna, alleviating dissatisfaction over the shortage of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine supplies and the longer EU approval process.
Europe, however, lags behind the U.S., UK, Israel and for vaccines. A virtual health crisis summit is to be held later this month, and President Charles Michel of the European Council called mass vaccination a “gigantic challenge.”
160 million doses of the U.S.-made vaccine have been purchased by the European Commission, which has been shown to be 94 percent effective in clinical trials and may be easier to administer because it does not need to be kept as cold as the Pfizer vaccine.
Separately, on Wednesday, Germany said it would not obey the U.K. In delaying the second dose of Pfizer’s vaccine to ensure that more individuals are vaccinated earlier, Health Minister Jens Spahn said it was easier to obey the advice of manufacturers.
“My impression is that especially with sensitive issues, where trust and reliability are important, it makes a lot of sense to stick to the approval,” Spahn said, adding that Germany will also avoid switching between vaccines to accelerate vaccination.
The EU started vaccinating Dec. 27, but progress so far has been agonizingly slow: the United States and the United Kingdom 1 to 2 percent of their citizens have already been vaccinated, while Israel is at 16 percent. The king of Europe, Germany, managed just 0.4 per cent, while the Netherlands only started on Wednesday.
Owing to the misleading speed of vaccine roll-out in the EU, both the Commission and national governments have come under pressure, although tensions within the Union have also risen, as they did at the onset of the pandemic over medical equipment sharing.
The EU executive pointed out that it has secured more than 2 billion doses for the bloc’s 450 million people from six separate suppliers, and said the issue is not so much that it has not ordered enough vaccines, but that producers are slow to manufacture them and countries are slow to administer them.
Commission spokesman Eric Mamer said, “I don’t think the problem is really the number of vaccines – it’s the fact that we’re at the beginning of a rollout,” “We’re all judging this as if this campaign is over; in reality, it’s just getting started.”
The decision to order a basket of numerous vaccines, some of which are not yet available, was also defended by Mamer. “We always knew it would be a complex operation. That’s why the commission was so adamant that it was important that we contract with different companies,” he said.
The U.S., which approved the Dec. 19 Moderna vaccine, and the U.K., which introduced the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to its arsenal this week, have gotten a head start by using emergency approvals, which give less assurances to governments – and make manufacturers less accountable if complications occur – than the conditional marketing approval of the EMA.
Above all, Europe experienced a combination of shortages of supply – BioNTech was unable to produce the 12.5 million doses it had promised at the end of December due to supply chain issues – and distribution problems in the Member States.
The logistical issues associated with the administration of a vaccine such as Pfizer/BioNTech, which must be stored at -70 ° C, have been overlooked by some governments in environments such as nursing homes, while others – such as vaccine-skeptic France – have opted for caution with a lengthy individual consent process for each patient.
In many countries, the delay is rapidly becoming a domestic political problem. Opposition politicians and health experts have shot France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel, and tensions are likely to grow higher, as if