European Union President Ursula Von der Leyen Wednesday said the EU member nations aim to start COVID-19 vaccinations on the same day before the end of the year as a sign of unity.
In a speech to the EU parliament in Brussels, she said the first vaccines will be authorized within a week so the vaccinations can begin.
“As we have gone in unity through this pandemic, let us start the eradication of this horrible virus together and united,” she said.
The EU’s drug regulatory body, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), is scheduled to meet next week to discuss emergency approval for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. EU member nations have waited as Britain, Canada, the United States and other nations have already approved the vaccine and begun administering shots.
On Tuesday, German Health Minister Jens Spahn defended the decision to wait for the EMA to rule, saying Europeans want a fast but thorough evaluation of the vaccine, and a coordinated roll-out, to ensure no EU member is left behind. Germany currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency.
Von der Leyen told the EU lawmakers more vaccines will become available early in 2021 and the bloc has secured more than enough doses for everyone in Europe. She stressed the need to work together to make sure everyone gets vaccinated, saying, “To get to the end of the pandemic, we will need up to 70 percent of the population vaccinated. This is a huge task, a big task.”