The EU’s drug regulator has approved the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use on Wednesday.
In a long-awaited decision, the Amsterdam-based European Medicines Agency gave the green light for the US firm’s vaccine for use on people over 18.
Criticism has mounted of the EU’s sluggish start to its vaccination campaign since the first vaccine, by Pfizer-BioNTech, was authorised in late December.
Europe is lagging far behind the United States, Britain and Israel in terms of numbers of people vaccinated, with COVID-19 cases soaring across the continent.
“This vaccine provides us with another tool to overcome the current emergency,” EMA Executive Director Emer Cooke said in a statement.
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said the EU was now “working at full speed” to make it available across the 27 countries of the bloc.
“Good news for our efforts to bring more COVID-19 vaccines to Europeans!” she said on Twitter.
The EMA’s one-year conditional marketing authorisation is for two injections of the Moderna vaccine into the arm, 28 days apart.
The EMA said that its human medicines committee, with experts drawn from all 27 countries, had “thoroughly assessed the data on the quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccine” and recommended authorisation “by consensus”.
“This will assure EU citizens that the vaccine meets EU standards” to underpin confidence in vaccination campaigns, it added