Updated Dec 21, 2020 - World

EU grants approval to Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

the Vaccine in a syringe and bottle
Photo: JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images

The European Commission on Monday granted market authorization to Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, hours after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended approval.

Why it matters: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that vaccinations will begin in the EU's 27 countries on Dec. 27, 28 and 29. The vaccine has been found to be 95% effective with no serious side effects.

Between the lines: The EMA said there is no evidence to suggest that the vaccine will not be effective against the new coronavirus variant found in the U.K..

The big picture: The U.S. and U.K. have both already begun to roll out the vaccine, after it was approved by regulators in the respective countries earlier this month.

  • Those authorizations put pressure on the EU to move faster, after the bureaucratic bloc was criticized for acting slowly as thousands of people died of COVID-19 each day.
  • The EMA subsequently pushed its date forward for making the decision, moving it to Monday from Dec. 29.
  • The agency will make a decision on Moderna's vaccine on Jan. 6.

This story has been updated with the European Commission's market authorization.

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