Brussels, Dec 22 (IANS) The European Union (EU) has approved the usage of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against the novel coronavirus within the bloc, hours after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) made a positive scientific assessment.
"We approved the first safe and effective vaccine against Covid-19. More vaccines will come soon. Doses of the vaccine approved today will be available for all EU countries, at the same time, on the same conditions," Xinhua news agency quoted European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen as saying on Monday night.
Efforts have been made to enable the delivery of the first doses on December 26 so that vaccination can start on December 27, said an EU statement.
A total of 200 million doses were expected to be distributed by September 2021, with 100 million more optional.
Earlier on Monday, EMA chief Emer Cooke confirmed that the positive assessment was backed by robust scientific data based on more than 40,000 clinical trials.
The vaccine can be administered to people aged over 16.
The assessment and the following conditional marketing authorization came as news broke about that a new strain of the coronavirus, which was found mainly in Britain, prompted countries to impose restrictions on flights to and from the UK.
Cooke said there was no evidence to suggest that the jab could not work against this new strain.
The Amsterdam-based agency had originally planned to meet on December 29 but brought the meeting forward as the need for a vaccine became more urgent because of a surge in the number of cases Europe-wide.
The urgency also emerged after both the UK and the US gave their approval to the same jab weeks ago.
According to the World Health Organization, 222 Covid-19 candidate vaccines were being developed worldwide currently, with 56 of them under clinical trials.