EMA approves Moderna coronavirus vaccine for EU
On what was already a big day for coronavirus vaccines in the Netherlands, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has given approval to the Moderna vaccine - the second jab to receive conditional marketing approval from the EMA following their approval of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine before Christmas.
EMA recommends EU commission approval of Moderna vaccine
The EMA has given the green light to the Moderna vaccine against COVID-19. The final decision must now be made by the European Commission, although their consent is largely a formality.
While it may not be the first vaccine granted approval, the Moderna vaccine offers significantly fewer logistical challenges than the one currently being rolled out across Europe: it can be stored at a temperature of minus 20 degrees instead of the minus 70 degrees required for the Pfizer vaccine. It is, however, slightly more expensive, but has demonstrated a similar level of effectiveness as the BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine in clinical trials.
The EMA had been expected to announce their decision on the Moderna vaccine following a meeting on Monday - after EU countries put pressure on the organisation to bring forward the date of a possible judgement by a week - but that meeting proved inconclusive. The outcome was instead announced on Wednesday.
Good news for the Netherlands
The update from the EMA came at a crucial time for the Netherlands, as the first vaccinations took place in parts of the country on Wednesday, and as Health Minister Hugo de Jonge faces criticism for not rolling out the vaccines earlier. With EMA's approval of the Moderna vaccine, the Dutch government is on track with the immunisation dates laid out in its vaccination strategy.
While the Moderna vaccine will play a crucial role in fighting the vaccine, the EU has signed a contract for "only" 80 million doses. The Commission has already activated an option included in the supply contract for a further 80 million doses, but the numbers still seem small in comparison to the 200 million doses coming from BioNTech / Pfizer, and the 300 million doses the bloc has secured of the AstraZeneca vaccine - which is yet to receive approval.