EU Plans Vaccines As Regulator Sets Approval Deadline


EU plans vaccines as regulator sets approval deadline

European countries were given a clear timeframe for the start of their vaccination programmes on Tuesday after the bloc's medicines regulator said it will decide by December 29 whether to grant emergency approval for the first Covid-19 jabs

Paris, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 1st Dec, 2020 ) :European countries were given a clear timeframe for the start of their vaccination programmes on Tuesday after the bloc's medicines regulator said it will decide by December 29 whether to grant emergency approval for the first Covid-19 jabs.

France plans to begin by targeting the most fragile and exposed groups in early 2021, followed by a second campaign for the rest of the population between April and June, President Emmanuel Macron announced.

Germany has already said it is hoping to launch its immunisation drive in the first quarter of 2021 and is preparing vaccination centres across the country.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Tuesday said it would hold an extraordinary meeting on December 29 "at the latest" to consider emergency approval for a vaccine developed by Germany's BioNTech and US giant Pfizer.

Worldwide hopes that Covid shots could be ready for use by the end of this year received a boost when US firm Moderna said it was filing Monday for emergency authorisation of its vaccine in the United States and Europe.

The EMA said it would hold a separate meeting to assess the Moderna shot by January 12 at the latest.

Large-scale trial data released last month showed that both vaccines were safe and around 95 percent effective against Covid-19.

European Commission spokesman Stefan de Keersmaecker told reporters that once the EMA had given regulatory permission, formal authorisation from Brussels would follow "very quickly", probably "in a matter of days".

Companies have been racing to find a treatment for the coronavirus, which has killed almost 1.5 million people and infected over 63 million since it first emerged in China in December last year.

Both the Moderna and BioNTech/Pfizer vaccines are based on the same new mRNA technology and with a similar level of effectiveness at around 95 percent.

The mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) is used to deliver genetic material to the body that makes human cells create a protein from the virus.

This trains the immune system to be ready to attack if it encounters SARS-CoV-2.

- 'On a knife's edge' - In France, Prime Minister Jean Castex told parliament that people in retirement homes and some staff working there would get priority for vaccinations.

Meanwhile, the OECD club of wealthy countries predicted Tuesday that with vaccines now potentially only weeks away from distribution, the world economy would bounce back to pre-pandemic levels by late 2021.

With anticipated global growth of around 4.2 percent next year, the world should make up almost all the output shortfall suffered in 2020, in large part thanks to "massive policy support" from governments and central banks, OECD chief economist Laurence Boone said.

Expansion is predicted to be less evenly distributed around the globe in 2021, with China and India leaping ahead while the US, the eurozone and Japan see only modest gains.

The United Nations, meanwhile, warned that the pandemic will pitch tens of millions more people into desperate need next year, saying around $35 billion is needed in humanitarian aid.

In its annual Global Humanitarian Overview published Tuesday, the UN said that the number of people in need of aid would grow 40 percent in 2021 compared with this year, to 235 million people -- or one in 33 worldwide.

"The increase arises almost entirely because of Covid-19," UN emergency relief coordinator Mark Lowcock told reporters, with the report saying the pandemic had tipped those "already living on a knife's edge" into need.

- Pressure on hospitals - Day-to-day, wealthier countries remain focused on the back and forth of infection control restrictions, with Ireland ending its second partial lockdown on Tuesday.

As cases are expected to mount as people mingle in the run-up to Christmas, "the challenge is to keep that increase as low as possible," Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told broadcaster RTE.

Across the Irish Sea, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces a rebellion in his Conservative ranks over a plan for a county-by-county tiered restriction system to replace an England-wide lockdown, set to end at midnight.

MPs complain that some regions are beng forced into the strictest infection control measures because of isolated clusters of cases, initially placing 23 million people under the toughest "Tier 3" category.

In Spain, a huge new medical complex built in just three months was inaugurated, to ease pressure on hospitals in the Madrid region which were overwhelmed during the first wave.

The Isabel Zendal complex covers 80,000 square metres (860,000 square feet) and cost nearly 100 million Euros ($120 million).

And in the US, media reported the resignation of Scott Atlas, President Donald Trump's controversial coronavirus adviser.

"Masks work? NO," Atlas had tweeted in October, calling the following month for people in Michigan to "rise up" against Covid-19 measures.