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European Medicines Agency panel approves Moderna COVID-19 vaccine as 'safe' and 'effective'

European Medicines Agency panel approves Moderna COVID-19 vaccine as 'safe' and 'effective'
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The European Medicines Agency (EMA) panel approved the Moderna coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday for use in the European Union, the second authorized vaccine for the 27-nation bloc.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the Moderna vaccine’s approval on Twitter, saying the EU’s drug regulator designated the vaccine as “safe & effective.”

Once the EU’s executive commission endorses the EMA’s recommendation to allow the vaccine, the bloc will begin rolling out the vaccine to its countries. 

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“Now we are working at full speed to approve it & make it available in the EU,” von der Leyen wrote. 

The Moderna vaccine, which was approved in the U.S. and U.K. last month, will likely begin distributing the 160 million doses ordered by the EU within the next week, German health minister Jens Spahn said, according to Bloomberg News

“This vaccine provides us with another tool to overcome the current emergency,” Emer Cooke, the EMA’s executive director, said in a statement obtained by Bloomberg News. “We will closely monitor data on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine to ensure ongoing protection of the EU public. Our work will always be guided by the scientific evidence.”

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The EU has faced criticism for the speed of its vaccine approval and distribution processes after its first Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were administered last week. Its nations are having varying degrees of success in vaccinating their populations, with Germany vaccinating more than 300,000 people and France giving vaccinations to less than 10,000 people so far, according to Bloomberg News.

The EMA authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Dec. 21, permitting 200 million doses to go out across the bloc around Christmas. Amid the demand, the EU ordered an additional 100 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last week as part of its vaccination effort.

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorization to both vaccines last month, and thus far, more than 4.8 million people have received their first dose in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.