The European Union’s medicines regulator is set to recommend Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine early next month, bolstering supplies even as governments struggle to get shots into people’s arms.
The European Medicines Agency’s nod is expected on March 11th, an EU official said on condition of anonymity. It would clear the way for market authorisation of a fourth Covid-19 vaccine, alongside those from Moderna, AstraZeneca and a partnership of Pfizer and BioNTech.
An EMA spokesperson said the agency is working toward issuing an opinion by mid-March but it couldn’t confirm a date.
The European Commission has said deliveries of the J&J shot are expected to begin in early April, adding to a surge in supplies over the second and third quarter. President Ursula von der Leyen showed a slide to EU leaders during a video summit Thursday projecting a dramatic increase in vaccine deliveries over the coming months.
While some leaders, including Italian prime minister Mario Draghi, have said they aren’t convinced about the reliability of such forecasts, independent analysis from London-based research firm Airfinity Ltd. shows that EU supplies should suffice to vaccinate 75 per cent of the region’s adult population by the end of August.
The EU’s advance purchase deal with J&J allows member states to purchase vaccines for 200 million people, with an option for another 200 million.
The EMA is also carrying out a rolling review of vaccine candidates from CureVac and Novavax. The Commission has struck deals for the initial purchase of 225 million CureVac shots and concluded exploratory talks with Novavax to purchase 100 million doses.
In the United States, a committee of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration is meeting to review J&J’s shot on Friday.– Bloomberg
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