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EU ‘Unlikely’ To Approve AstraZeneca Vaccine In January, Says Watchdog Official

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While the United Kingdom begins rolling out the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, the European Medicines Authority is “unlikely” to do so any time soon, citing a lack of information about the new vaccine. 

Speaking to Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, EMA Deputy Executive Noel Wathion claimed that AstraZeneca and University of Oxford have “not even filed an application” to the drug regulatory agency. 

“We need additional data about the quality of the vaccine. And after that, the company has to formally apply,” he said.

The UK has ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine, enough to vaccinate 50 million people at two doses each. Despite the UK’s quick approval, the watchdog official said there’s “not even enough [information] to warrant a conditional marketing licence”. As a result, it seems highly “improbable” that the vaccine will be approved by the EU this month.

So far, the EU has approved just one COVID-19 vaccine, Pfzifer-BioNTech, which began distribution across member states last week, including Malta. 

The island has received two consignments of the vaccine so far. The first cohort of people to get vaccinated includes healthcare workers, elderly care home staff and residents, mental care home staff and residents and everyone over 85 will receive it in the near future. 

The second cohort will include everyone over 80 and all other front-liners, the third will include everyone suffering from chronic illnesses, everyone over 70 and school and childcare centre workers, the fourth everyone over 55 and the fifth the general public.

The approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine by the EU would expedite the process of inoculation and help Malta achieve herd immunity quicker. 

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