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Coronavirus

EU Agency Denies Working Too Slowly

December 14, 2020

THE HAGUE — The head of the European Union’s regulatory agency has defended the speed of its experts team after Germany’s health minister demanded that the agency work faster to approve a coronavirus vaccine and bring an end to the suffering on the continent.

Emer Cooke of the European Medicines Agency, or EMA, said Monday that the agency was working “around the clock towards the licensing of the first COVID-19 vaccine.”

Cooke said while EMA’s expert committee was expected to give its recommendation by Dec. 29 at the latest, “these timelines are of course constantly under review.”

“European citizens have told us they want a fast approval, but more importantly they want a thorough evaluation of the benefits and the risks of the vaccine, so that they can be confident it is safe, effective and of high quality,” Cooke added.

Expressing impatience, German Health Minister Jens Spahn had said in tweets Sunday that Germany, which has created more than 400 vaccination centers and has activated about 10,000 doctors and medical staff to start mass vaccinations as early as Tuesday, was hamstrung by the lack of regulatory approval.

It was especially galling because the vaccine developed by Germany’s BioNTech and American drugmaker Pfizer has already been authorized for use in Britain, the United States, Canada and other countries.

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