BRUSSELS, DEC 2 – The EU criticized the UK’s rapid approval of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. The European Medicines Agency said its approval procedure is “more thorough”.
The UK has become the first country to approve Pfizer’s COVID vaccine and will start vaccinating next week. The decision was made in an ultra-fast approval process, which allowed the UK drug regulator to temporarily authorize the vaccine just ten days after it began examining data from large-scale studies.
In a statement, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which handles the approval of COVID-19 vaccines for the EU, said its longer approval procedure is more appropriate because it is based on more evidence and requires more controls. than the procedure chosen by the United Kingdom.
The EMA also said it would make a decision by December 29. A European Commission spokesman said the EMA procedure is “the most effective regulatory mechanism to give all EU citizens access to a safe and effective vaccine”.
June Raine, head of the UK Medicines and Medicines Regulatory Agency (MHRA), defended the decision and said that “the way the MHRA has been conducted is equivalent to all international standards”.
EU parliamentarians have been even more explicit in their criticisms of Britain’s action. “I think this decision is problematic and I recommend that EU member states not repeat the process in the same way,” said Peter Liese, an EU parliamentarian who is a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party.
Reuters reminds that according to EU rules, the Pfizer vaccine must be authorized by the EMA, but EU countries can use an emergency procedure. The UK is still subject to EU rules until it leaves the EU bloc for good at the end of the year.