Germany’s health minister said Tuesday he expects a coronavirus vaccine to be approved for use in the country by December 23 and for inoculations to begin before the end of the year.
In a briefing to reporters in Berlin, Health Minister Jens Spahn said he has learned that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) – which approves evaluates and approves vaccines and other drugs for in the European Union – will meet on the 23rd and finalize the approval process for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. He spoke alongside Lothar Wieler, chief of the Robert Koch Institute, which seeks to investigate and prevent infectious diseases.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has already been cleared for use by Britain, Canada, the United States and several other countries.
Spahn defended awaiting the EMA’s approval of the vaccine as opposed to opting for a review by Germany’s own regulators. He said the government has always supported Europe-wide rather than national approval of a vaccine, explaining they wanted a thorough, but swift review, as well as a drug they could trust. He said they get that through the EMA.
Wieler reported the COVID-19 situation in Germany is worse than it has been at any time during the pandemic. He said it would likely worsen during the Christmas holiday, with record high numbers of infections and deaths already pushing hospitals to their limits.
He called on people in Germany to reduce their contacts as much as possible, including over the holiday period when restrictions are to be eased slightly.