Europe is to start COVID-19 vaccinations across all 27 member states from December 27 according to European Commissioner (EC), Ursula von der Leyen.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has just announced "conditional approval" for the region's first COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech. The news comes as a number of European Union (EU) nations imposed 48-hour travel bans on flights from the U.K. in an effort to stop a new strain of coronavirus that has broken out in southern England and Wales.

"It's Europe's moment," von der Leyen tweeted. "On 27, 28 and 29 December vaccination will start across the EU. We protect our citizens together."

Speaking to the European Parliament, she elaborated: "Any recovery starts with overcoming this virus. And nobody should think that we are out of the woods yet--not when more than 3,000 Europeans are dying of COVID-19 every single day or when infections and hospitalisations are still going up in some Member States. The Commission has negotiated the broadest portfolio of vaccine candidates. And finally, within a week, the first vaccine will be authorised, so that vaccinations can start immediately. And more will follow in the new year. But to get to the end of the pandemic, we will need up to 70% of the population vaccinated. This is a huge task, a big task. So let us start as soon as possible with the vaccination, together, as 27, with a start on the same day. As we have gone in unity through this pandemic, let us start the eradication of this horrible virus together and united."

To date the Commission has secured 2.2 billion potential vaccine doses from seven different suppliers. Contracts have already been signed with AstraZeneca, Sanofi-GSK, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, BioNtech-Pfizer, CureVac and Moderna. The Commission has also concluded talks with Novavax and proposed that a future contract will cover the purchase of 100 million doses, with the option of up to 100 million more doses. The Novavax vaccine is a protein subunit vaccine which is already in phase 3 clinical trials.

Europe is currently engaged in containing a new, highly infectious strain of coronavirus that has broken out in parts of the U.K.--a country that is due to leave the Union at the end of this year as part of the Brexit negotiations. Flight and freight bans have been introduced by Germany, Ireland, France, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Portugal, Sweden, Romania, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Finland and Denmark so far. Non-European nations Canada, Morocco and Turkey have also banned flights arriving from the U.K. Industrial Info reported recently that the U.K. has become the first country to grant authorisation for emergency use of a COVID-19 vaccine to BioNTech SE and Pfizer Incorporated (NYSE:PFE). For additional information, see December 14, 2020, article--U.K. First to Green Light a COVID-19 Vaccine.

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