European Medicines Authority calls out UK’s 'hastiness' in approving COVID-19 vaccine

European Medicines Authority says its procedure, in deeming a vaccine safe or not, is based on more evidence and stricter checks

The European Medicines Authority has called out the “hastiness” with which the COVID-19 vaccine was approved in the United Kingdom.

The UK is the first country to approve the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and roll out is expected as of next week.

Britain's medicines regulator said the vaccine, which offers up to 95% protection against COVID-19, is safe to be rolled out.

Issuing a warning, European regulators expressed their concern over the UK’s move to approve the vaccine, stating that its procedure was more appropriate as it was based on more evidence, while having more required checks.

The agency said on Tuesday it would be deciding by 29 December on whether to authorize the vaccine.

A spokesperson for the EMA said the procedure was “the most effective regulatory mechanism to grant all EU citizens’ access to a safe and effective vaccine,” as it was based on more evidence.

In comments to MaltaToday last Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne said the European Medicines Agency is expected to receive the company’s final submissions and once approval is given towards the end of December, the vaccine roll out will start immediately.

Fearne said that Malta has half-a-million coronavirus vaccine doses ordered from Pfizer and the first batch could be expected to arrive here in January. Vaccine orders have also been placed with other manufacturers.

He said the Pfizer vaccine, which was at the most advanced state of production, has to be kept at cold temperatures and will have to be transported overland.

Other European legislators have also weighed into the debate, with Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza telling parliament he would be demanding that the EMA’s bar on surveillance is kept high.

“When the vaccine will be administered to people it will certainly have to be a safe vaccine, but it will have to be an effective vaccine,” he said.

Peter Liese, an EU legislator and member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party said that he considered the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) decision to be problematic.

“A few weeks of thorough examination by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is better than a hasty emergency marketing authorisation of a vaccine,” he said.

READ ALSO: UK approves use of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine, rollout to begin next week

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