Millions of Europeans will have to wait at least another week before vaccination programmes against Covid-19 in their countries get under way.
Regulators at the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will meet tomorrow to decide whether to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, which was developed in the German city of Mainz.
If they give it the go-ahead, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said that vaccinations will begin across the continent next Sunday.
“I took this very personally. I wanted to fight it, beat it ... Nothing else mattered.” For Pfizer’s vaccine research chief, seeing the pandemic’s devastating toll on New York City, where she lives, fueled her mission to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. https://t.co/HuiV27MDyv pic.twitter.com/aOntwVEMnj— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) December 21, 2020
But the EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use has said it will delay a decision if its members aren’t satisfied that the vaccine’s ‘quality, safety and efficacy are sufficiently robust and complete’.
While the EU is determined that vaccination programmes will begin simultaneously in all member states, Germany has been pressing to begin inoculations as its infection rate spirals.
Economist Professor Paul Welfens, of Wuppertal University, has estimated that the ‘nonsense’ preventing the rollout of the vaccine ‘will cost around 15,000 lives’.
He has called for the current distribution plans to be scrapped and for a ‘turbo plan’ to be introduced where the whole population could be vaccinated in 90 days. Germany’s best-selling tabloid newspaper, Der Bild, published a damning editorial last week, castigating the delays in approval.
‘It’s just beyond belief,’ it said. ‘The world is celebrating the BioNTech vaccine developed in Germany.
Hey @marcorubio - many people working with Covid patients at that hospital in the photograph below have yet to receive vaccine. The one that got injected into your arm was taken from someone like that. You, who ridiculed masks, who spoke at crowded maskless events. Burn in hell. https://t.co/RUUBk9P7Lx— Kurt "Masks Save Lives" Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) December 21, 2020
‘Yet Britain, the US and Canada have started vaccinating while we are standing and gawping.’
Britain began vaccinations on December 8, with the US and Canada following six days later.
Eurosceptic MEPs have cited the delays as proof that Britain was right to leave the European Union in January.
Former Brexit Party MEP Michael Heaver said: ‘Germans waiting for a vaccine that was developed by two German scientists because it hasn’t had EU approval yet. Bonkers.’
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.