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Photo: Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) will meet by Dec. 29 "at the latest" to decide if the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is safe and effective enough to be approved, the agency announced on Tuesday.

The state of play: Pfizer and BioNTech have already submitted their vaccine for emergency authorization with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as well as in the U.K., Australia, Canada and Japan, per AP.

  • The EMA also said on Tuesday that it could decide to approve the coronavirus vaccine developed by Moderna Inc. as early as Jan. 12 if the data the company submitted proved the vaccine's safety and effectiveness.
  • EMA said it had already begun a "rolling review" on the Moderna vaccine based on laboratory data previously submitted, but will now start reviewing data on how well the vaccine triggers an immune response against the virus.

The big picture: The EMA's announcement comes almost two weeks after Pfizer said that its coronavirus vaccine is 95% effective and has no serious side effects. Moderna said it filed for an emergency use authorization with the FDA and the EMA this week, and that its vaccine is 94.1% effective.

What to watch: Initial vaccine distribution could begin around the world before the end of the year.

Go deeper

Jan 23, 2021 - World

Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine

Containers carrying doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine arrive in Brazil. Photo: Maurio Pimentel/AFP via Getty Images

Brazil on Saturday began distributing the 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine that arrived from India Friday, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Brazil has the third highest COVID-19 case-count in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The 2 million doses "only scratch the surface of the shortfall," Brazilian public health experts told the AP.

Latest James Bond movie release delayed for third time

An advertisement poster featuring Daniel Craig in the new James Bond movie "No Time to Die" in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo: Mladen Antonov/AFP via Getty Images

The release of the latest James Bond film, "No Time to Die," has been postponed for the third time as the coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate Hollywood.

The state of play: The film's release, initially scheduled for April 2020, was first postponed to November 2020, and then to April 2021. MGM said this week that movie's global debut will now be delayed until Oct. 8.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Jan 23, 2021 - Health

Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden's plan to accelerate the reopening of K-8 schools faces major challenges from a still out-of-control pandemic and more contagious coronavirus variants.

Why it matters: The longer American kids miss in-person schooling, the further they fall behind. But the uncertain state of the science on the role young children play in the pandemic continues to complicate efforts to reopen schools.