The European Medicines Agency (EMA) plans to give its opinion in favour of a first vaccine against the new coronavirus by the end of the year, with a view to distribution "from January."
"If the data are solid, we will be able to give the green light to the first vaccine by the end of the year and start distribution from January," said Guido Rasi, EMA's director, in an interview in the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore.
The agency's mission is to authorise and control medicines in the EU. The final green light, given by the European Commission, allows laboratories to market their medicines throughout the EU.
The EMA, which is counting on "6 or 7 different vaccines" being available in 2021, received on Friday "the first clinical data from Pfizer for its vaccine," Guido Rasi said.
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"We have received the pre-clinical data from AstraZeneca, the data from the animal trials that are already being evaluated and, finally, we have had several discussions with Moderna," he said.
By putting a vaccine on the market in January, its first effects on the spread of the virus "will be visible in five to six months, mainly next summer," he said.
"Obviously, it will not be possible to vaccinate everyone, but we will start with the most exposed categories, such as the elderly and health workers, which will begin to block the transmission bridges," he said.
He believes that "more than half" of Europe's population needs to be vaccinated in order "to see a decline in the pandemic," which will require "at least 500 million doses in Europe."
To vaccinate everyone, "it will take at least a year" and "if all goes well at the end of 2021, we will have sufficient immunisation", added Guido Rasi.
The Brussels Times