Johnson and Johnson likely to seek EU approval for COVID-19 vaccine in February: lawmaker

BRUSSELS — U.S. firm Johnson and Johnson is likely to apply for EU approval for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in February, a top lawmaker said on Wednesday.

“EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides announced during our (EU lawmakers) group meeting this morning that the vaccine manufacturer Johnson and Johnson is likely to submit an application for approval to the EU for their vaccine in February,” said Peter Liese, who represents health matters for the EU’s center-right group, the assembly’s largest.

The EU drugs regulator had said in December it expected the company to apply in the first quarter of this year.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) started on Dec. 1 a rolling review of the vaccine, which Johnson and Johnson is developing through its subsidiary Janssen.

It took EMA 20 days to approve the vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer, and just over a month to authorize the Moderna shot after their applications in early December. The two shots are so far the only ones approved in the EU, while AstraZeneca submitted its application on Tuesday.

“If all goes well, we will already have the fourth corona vaccine available in a few weeks,” Liese added.

The EU has booked 200 million doses of the J&J vaccine and has an option to order another 200 million shots. The J&J jab is single dose, unlike other vaccines approved so far in the EU and which require two doses for full protection.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; editing by Jason Neely, Louise Heavens and Bernadette Baum

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