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2 Dec, 2020 17:12

EU opts for longer Covid vaccine evaluation to build public ‘trust,’ as UK swiftly approves Pfizer-BioNTech jab

EU opts for longer Covid vaccine evaluation to build public ‘trust,’ as UK swiftly approves Pfizer-BioNTech jab

Berlin has said that Europe is pursuing a more measured rollout of a Covid-19 jab to maintain “trust,” after the UK celebrated its emergency approval of the German-developed Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Wednesday.

German health minister Jens Spahn said Europe could have already approved the vaccine “if we’d wanted to,” but that EU member states favored a “move forward together.” 

"It's very important we do this to help promote trust and confidence in this authorization," Spahn added.

His words came as British ministers hailed a “UK-led charge” against coronavirus after the country’s regulator became the world’s first to approve the US-German-made vaccine on Wednesday. 

Also on rt.com EU watchdog calls for longer-but-better Covid vaccine approval process after UK grants quick authorization

However, Spahn urged caution over hasty decision-making, and also pointed out that BioNTech is a German company, saying he had made a “a few remarks on Brexit to my British friends” over the claim. 

The fact that this EU product is so good that Britain approved it so quickly shows that, in this crisis, European and international cooperation are best.

The German minister’s words echoed a statement issued by EU regulator the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which cautioned members of the 27-nation bloc against rushing through a jab using emergency powers as the UK has done.

“The EMA considers that the conditional marketing authorization is the most appropriate regulatory mechanism for use in the current pandemic emergency,” it said. 

The UK’s swift approval of the Covid-19 jab was also labeled “problematic” by German MEP Peter Liese, while ex-EMA chief Guido Rasi claimed the British government “had not” conducted a robust review of all the available data.

Also on rt.com UK becomes first country to approve Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) hit back at allegations it had acted rashly. “Our progress has been totally dependent on the availability of data in our rolling review and the rigorous assessment and independent advice we have received,” said MHRA chief June Raine. 

Meanwhile, the MHRA has yet to give the green light to Britain’s own Covid-19 vaccine, produced by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, after Health Secretary Matt Hancock asked for it to be evaluated.

The UK government said it has secured over 357 million doses of different vaccines, including 40 million from Pfizer-BioNTech – enough to vaccinate 20 million people – and 100 million from Oxford-AstraZeneca.

In England and Scotland, the public will be invited to be immunized with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from next week, with Hancock promising that “several millions” of people will receive the jab in December. 

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