EU Drugs Watchdog Expects First Application for COVID-19 Vaccine in Days

LONDON (Reuters) -
A research scientist works inside a laboratory of India’s Serum Institute, the world’s largest maker of vaccines, which is working on vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Pune, India, in May. (Reuters/Euan Rocha/File Photo)

Europe’s drugs watchdog said on Thursday it expects to receive the first application for conditional marketing approval for a COVID-19 vaccine “in the coming days,” the latest step toward making a shot available outside the United States.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) did not name the company it expects to file the application, but Pfizer Inc. and BioNTEch are the most advanced in the regulatory process among the three companies that have published late-stage trial data for their vaccines.

The companies applied on Nov. 20 for U.S. approval and the U.K. said it has asked its medical regulator to assess the vaccine for its suitability.

Asked about its cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it said in an email that the agency may not be able to synchronize the decision-making process with other international regulators.

The EMA started a real-time review of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Oct. 6 to speed up the process of approving a successful vaccine in the bloc, by allowing researchers to submit findings in real time, without waiting for studies to conclude.