EU approves mass inoculation of 2nd COVID-19 vaccine

BRUSSELS, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) on Wednesday approved a second COVID-19 vaccine to be used across the bloc soon after Europe's medicines regulator issued a positive scientific assessment.

In this file photo taken on December 27, 2020 a nurse holds a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19, coronavirus vaccine ahead of starting inoculations at Mariebergsgarden care home in Nykoping, Sodermanland County, Sweden. (Photo: AFP)

The European Commission granted a conditional marketing authorization for the vaccine developed by Moderna, an American pharmaceutical company, and the decision was endorsed by the EU member states.

"With the Moderna vaccine, the second one now authorised in the EU, we will have a further 160 million doses," said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, adding that "more vaccines will come."

Earlier on Wednesday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended granting the Moderna vaccine a conditional marketing authorization after assessing data on the quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

The agency said in a press release that the vaccine proved to be effective on people aged 18 years and over during a large clinical trial involving 30,000 people, with a 94.1 percent efficacy irrespective of gender, race or ethnicity.

For people at risk of severe COVID-19, such as patients with chronic lung disease, heart disease, obesity, liver disease or HIV infection, the efficacy dropped to 90.9 percent.

Previously, the EU has rolled out inoculation of a vaccine jointly developed by Pfizer and BioNtech, which was greenlighted by EMA on Dec. 21, 2020 and was granted approval for conditional marketing by the European Commission on the same day.

As of the last week of 2020, the EU and Britain had recorded more than 17 million COVID-19 cases since the pandemic hit Europe in February last year, and 1.8 million deaths linked to the disease, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in some countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.

Meanwhile, 232 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide with 60 of them in clinical trials in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, the World Health Organization reported on Dec. 29, 2020.