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Europe prepares for Moderna vaccine rollout as fears grow over virus variants


EU countries could begin rolling out Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine as soon as next week after authorities approved the region’s second shot on Wednesday, with more infectious variants of the virus adding extra urgency to inoculation efforts.


Vaccinating the European Union’s 450 million people could be crucial to ending a pandemic that has killed almost 1.9 million people globally. Countries are scrambling to contain two variants found in South Africa and Britain that are more transmissible and have driven a surge in infections.

“With the Moderna vaccine, the second one now authorised in the EU, we will have a further 160 million doses. And more vaccines will come,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday.

She was speaking after the EU executive gave the vaccine the final go-ahead for rollout, hours after the EU drug regulator, the European Medicines Authority (EMA), approved the shot for use on people aged over 18.

The first deliveries to European countries will begin next week, Moderna said following the news.


The EU approval, coming just over a year since the first outbreak of the virus was identified in China, marks the fourth authorisation for U.S. biotech company Moderna’s vaccine after the United States, Canada and Israel, and further validation of the new genetic mRNA technology it uses.

The EU approved a shot from Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE, also based on mRNA technology, two weeks ago.

The EMA has given a conditional marketing approval for both, rather than the ultra-fast emergency use clearance issued by Britain, which the EU regulator says requires more detailed study of the data.

Additional authorisations for the Moderna shot are under review in Singapore, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, the U.S. company said in a statement after the news.