Germany expects quick EU vaccine approval

·2-min read

The European Union should give rapid approval to the coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca that has been cleared for use in Britain, Germany's top vaccines official says.

Berlin's support for AstraZeneca comes as EU member countries seek to fill supply chains for vaccination drives that began last weekend using a shot from Pfizer and BioNTech - the only one to win EU approval so far.

Germany has made relatively quick headway, reporting a total of 78,000 shots administered, but there have been reports of setbacks with some vaccination centres shutting down temporarily due to supply shortages.

Fatalities linked to COVID-19 in Germany hit a record daily high of 1,129 on Wednesday, bringing total deaths to 32,107, as local health authorities caught up with a Christmas reporting backlog.

Total confirmed cases reached 1.69 million.

Klaus Cichutek, head of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, said that thanks to the rolling EU review of the AstraZeneca vaccine, it should be possible to take a quick decision.

A spokesman for AstraZeneca said on Wednesday the company has submitted full data to pursue a conditional marketing authorisation application from the European Medicines Agency.

"We can confirm that the we have submitted a full data package to support an application for conditional marketing authorisation for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to the European Medicines Agency," the spokesman said.

"AstraZeneca has been submitting data on a rolling basis and will continue to work closely with the EMA to support the start of a formal CMA application process."

German Health Minister Jens Spahn urged "a thorough and quick examination" of the AstraZeneca vaccine by EMA, in addition to the expected clearance of a shot from Moderna in early January

"Vaccination is the key to getting out of this pandemic," Spahn said.

"Preventing death and suffering is key. It is the key to getting our normal lives back."