top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon

Covid: European Medicines Agency to approve jab by end 2020

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is considering data from seven major labs in a bid to approve the jab by end 2020 and start vaccination early 2021

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is working to authorise a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of the year, in a bid to start vaccination by January 2021, with the goal of vaccinating “more than half of Europe”.

EMA director Guido Rasi made the announcement this weekend (Saturday November 14).

The EMA is currently examining data from seven laboratories, it said, and is aiming to deliver authorisation for a vaccine by the end of 2020, to allow the first vaccinations to begin in early 2021.

It said that its goal would be to vaccinate “more than half the European population” over the course of a year, and work to achieve “sufficient immunity” by the end of 2021.

The frontrunner vaccinations being considered include those from Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna.

Pfizer, working with BioNTech, has already claimed its vaccine offers a 90% effectiveness rate.

Read more: Covid jabs could start from early 2021 in Europe (and what are the major trials currently taking place?)

The EMA’s timeline appears to match predictions made by other leading experts, including Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, eminent virologist and head of research at French health research institute Inserm (Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale).

In a recent interview with Le Monde newspaper, she predicted that France would likely begin vaccinations in early 2021.

Read more: French specialist: Covid vaccine will not eradicate virus

This virus ‘a lot less complex than other viruses’

In response to some concerns over how quickly the vaccinations have been developed, Professor Jean-Daniel Lelièvre, head of the infectious diseases service at the Henri-Mondor hospital in Créteil (Val-de-Marne), said this rapidity is not so surprising.

He said: “This virus is a lot less complex than other viruses, such as the HIV virus. Even though it was unknown until now, it is not as though it is a new virus that has arrived about which we know absolutely nothing.”

Similarly, Dr Kieny said that in order to improve public confidence in the vaccine, “We must be very transparent about possible side-effects, on the effectiveness of vaccines after vaccination, and also in the months after. We must be precise about which people they protect well, and which they protect less well”.

She said: “We must show that the first aim of vaccination campaigns is not to help industry make a profit, but to ensure public health.”


Earlier still in the UK?

The plans in Europe and France come as UK health authorities say they are aiming to begin vaccinating people by the start of December.

This week, UK health minister Matt Hancock said that the government was looking to begin vaccinating the most vulnerable - the elderly and/or most fragile - from December 1, if the Pfizer-BioNTech jab is ready, and has received the “green light” from the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

The minister said that the NHS would be ready to start “anytime” from December 1.

Downing Street said it had secured the purchase of 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine - enough for 20 million people, as the jab requires two injections - from the Puurs factory in Belgium, including the delivery of 10 million by the end of the year.

Mr Hancock said the government had secured the delivery of the vaccine, even in the event of a “no deal” Brexit after January 1, 2021.

The British government has also said it is also urgently awaiting the results of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccination trial, and has put in a pre-order - pending results - of up to 100 million doses. 

This type of vaccine is less difficult to store (as it does not need the extremely-low storage temperatures required by the Pfizer jab) and is said to be around 10 times’ less expensive. Results of the current phase 3 trial are expected within the next few weeks.

Related stories

Covid-19 vaccine ‘should be mandatory for all’ in France

Covid jabs could start from early 2021 in Europe

Coronavirus: How close is France to a vaccine?

Paris is doing human trials but France lags in vaccine race

A quarter of people in France against Covid vaccine

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Income Tax in France 2023 (for 2022 income)*
Featured Help Guide
- Primarily aimed at Britons, covers pensions, rent, ISAs, shares, savings and interest - but also contains significant general information pertinent to readers of other nationalities - Overview of online declarations + step-by-step guide to the French printed forms - Includes updates given automatically after this year's site opened
Get news, views and information from France