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EU regulator moves meeting on Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to Dec 21

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 23, 2020 is pictured a bottle reading “Vaccine Covid-19” next to US pharmaceutical company Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech logos on November 23, 2020. – Pharma companies Pfizer and BioNTech on December 1, 2020 filed for European approval for their coronavirus vaccine, following in the footsteps of competitor Moderna, while the OECD predicted the world economy would bounce back to pre-pandemic levels by late 2021. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

The European Medicines Agency said on Tuesday it had moved forward a meeting to decide on authorisation for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by more than a week to December 21.

The announcement of a change to the previous date of December 29 came after mounting pressure on the regulator from European countries desperate for a vaccine, particularly Germany.

The Amsterdam-based agency said it had received “additional data” from the company on Monday that was requested by the EMA committee that examines medicines for human use.

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“An exceptional meeting of the (committee) has now been scheduled for 21 December to conclude if possible,” the EMA said in a statement.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen welcomed the announcement, saying it meant vaccinations would likely start before the end of the year.

“Every day counts — we work at full speed to authorise #COVID19 vaccines that are safe and effective,” she said on Twitter.

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“I welcome @EMA_News bringing forward its meeting to discuss the @pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, before Christmas. Likely that the first Europeans will be vaccinated before end 2020!”

Germany had earlier piled pressure on the EMA, saying it wanted it to approve the vaccine “before Christmas”.

“The goal is to get approval before Christmas,” German Health Minister Jens Spahn told a press conference in Berlin. “We want to start vaccinating in Germany before the end of the year.”

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