The European Union said Tuesday it could be vaccinating citizens against COVID-19 by the end of the month if medical officials grant emergency approval of two vaccines candidates.
European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen told reporters in Brussels EU member states are working on logistics for the distribution of millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine and if all goes well, she said, "the first European citizens would be vaccinated by the end of December."
Her comments came as U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech announced they have applied for conditional approval of their coronavirus vaccine with the European Medicines Agency. The companies said in a statement that the submission on Monday completes the rolling review process they initiated with the agency on October 6.
The move comes a day after another U.S company, Moderna said it was asking U.S. and European regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine. Both companies applied with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency approval in November.
In a statement, the European Medicines Agency said it would convene a meeting on December 29 to decide if there is enough data about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for it to be approved.
The agency also said Tuesday it could decide as early as January 12 whether to approve a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna.
Last week, the EU said it had signed deals to acquire more than a billion doses of a total of six potential vaccines, including the two currently being considered for approval in Europe.