The European Commission gave final approval to Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine on Monday just hours after Europe’s regulatory agency endorsed the product. The final approval officially clears the way for the jab to be distributed and administered within a week.
“The European Medicines Agency assessed this vaccine thoroughly and it concluded that it is safe and effective against COVID-19,” Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, said Monday. “Based on this scientific assessment, we proceeded to authorize it for the European Union market.”
The EMA faced increasing pressure over its approval process timeline, especially as Britain skipped ahead and granted the vaccine temporary authorization and the U.S. gave it the green light earlier this month.
Von der Leyen said the first doses will begin shipment in several days from Pfizer’s manufacturing site in Belgium, and vaccinations will begin on Dec. 27. The European Commission head expects more vaccine approvals to follow, provided they prove safe and effective against COVID-19. EMA will issue its opinion on Moderna’s vaccine on Jan. 6, per von der Leyen.
The European Commission has emphasized that all EU countries will begin vaccinations on the same day. Several European countries have said they will begin administering the vaccine as early as Dec. 27 following the European Commission’s decision, Reuters reported.
Fox News’ Alexandria Hein contributed to this report.