Germany expects the EU to give a fast approval to the coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca that was cleared for use in Britain on Wednesday, its top vaccines official has said.
Berlin’s support for AstraZeneca comes as EU member countries seek to fill supply chains for ongoing vaccination programmes that began last weekend using a Pfizer-BioNTech jab, the only vaccine to win EU approval so far.
Germany has been making good headway, saying 78,000 shots have been administered, but there have been reports of some vaccination centres shutting down temporarily because of supply shortages, according to Reuters.
Fatalities in Germany hit a record daily high of 1,129 on Wednesday, bringing total deaths to over 32,000. Total confirmed cases reached 1.7 million.
Klaus Cichutek, head of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, said that thanks to the rolling EU review of the AstraZeneca vaccine, it would be possible to make a quick decision once a formal application for approval was submitted to the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
German Health Minister Jens Spahn urged “a thorough and quick examination” of the AstraZeneca vaccine by EMA, in addition to the expected clearance of the US shot from Moderna in early January.
Even with increased supply, it will take months to inoculate the wider population.
“Vaccination is the key to getting out of this pandemic,” Spahn told reporters. “I can only appeal for patience. Please don’t forget that we have a vaccine and that is reason enough for joy and optimism.”