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Photo: John Beckmann/BSR Agency/Getty Images

The European Medicines Agency on Wednesday recommended Moderna's coronavirus vaccine for authorization in the European Union's 27 member states.

Why it matters: This is the second vaccine to be granted approval by the regulator. The European Commission — which has purchased 160 million doses of the Moderna vaccine — is likely to issue final approval this week.

  • European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted that they "are working at full speed to approve it & make it available in the EU."
  • The commission approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in December.

The big picture: The EU has been criticized for its slow rollout of the vaccine as cases continue to rise and countries enter a third wave of lockdowns.

  • The EU officially began vaccinating with Pfizer-BioNTech shots on Dec. 27, but each country's distribution has been different.
  • According to CNBC, Germany vaccinated about 240,000 people in the first week of EU approval, while France inoculated 516 people and the Netherlands had not even started vaccinating.
  • The approval of the Moderna vaccine should further help the EU and its 446 million inhabitants resolve some supply issues.

What they're saying: "EMA’s human medicines committee (CHMP) has thoroughly assessed the data on the quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccine and recommended by consensus a formal conditional marketing authorisation be granted by the European Commission," EMA said in its statement.

Go deeper

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Germany to impose travel restrictions to curb spread of coronavirus variants

Border police officers check passports and COVID-19 tests at Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Thomas Lohnes via Getty Images

Germany announced Friday that it was imposing new travel restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.

Details: All non-German residents traveling from countries deemed "areas of variant concern," including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland, Brazil, Lesotho and Eswatini, will be banned from entering the country, even if they test negative for the coronavirus.

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Science helps New Zealand avoid another coronavirus lockdown

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) visits a lab at Auckland University in December. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand has avoided locking down for a second time over COVID-19 community cases because of a swift, science-led response.

Why it matters: The Health Ministry said in an email to Axios Friday there's "no evidence of community transmission" despite three people testing positive after leaving managed hotel isolation. That means Kiwis can continue to visit bars, restaurants and events as much of the world remains on lockdown.

Justice Department asks Supreme Court to block Texas abortion ban

Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 11, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

The Justice Department on Monday asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block Texas' near-total ban on abortions while federal courts consider its constitutionality.

The big picture: The court last month allowed the ban to take effect, rejecting an emergency application by abortion-rights groups. The law bars the procedure after cardiac activity is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.