A frontline medical worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at the Virginia Hospital Centre. AFP
Europe's medicines regulator on Monday approved the use of the COVID-19 vaccine jointly developed by US company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech , putting Europe on course to start inoculations within a week.
The European Medicines Agency said the "historic" step paved the way for vaccinations to finally start within days across the 27-nation EU where cases of the disease are surging.
European Union countries including Germany, France, Austria and Italy have said they plan to start vaccinations from Dec.27 as Europe tries to catch up with the United States and Britain, where inoculations began earlier this month.
Having gained the green light from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the final step is approval by the European Commission, which is expected in the coming days.
The Commission typically follows the EMA's advice. Preparations for the vaccine rollout come as the identification of a highly infectious new strain of the coronavirus in Britain caused chaos across the region, with countries shutting off travel ties with the UK and disrupting trade ahead of the Christmas holiday.
The pandemic has killed about 470,000 Europeans and is picking up pace in the winter months, crushing economies in the process.
Many governments have imposed tighter restrictions on households to try to curb a second wave of infections and avoid overwhelming healthcare systems. Commission head Ursula von der Leyen had already targeted the start of vaccinations over the Dec.27-29 period.
Student medics, retired doctors, pharmacists and soldiers are being drafted into a European vaccination campaign of unprecedented scale.
A phased-in approach means frontline healthcare workers and elderly residents of care homes are being prioritised, with most national schemes not reaching the general public until the end of the first quarter of 2021 at the earliest.
The goal of the 27-member EU is to reach coverage of 70% of its 450 million people.
The call came as the United States, the country worst hit by the virus, kickstarted the biggest vaccination drive in its history by giving the jab to a nurse in New York.
A nurse in New York became the first person in the US to be vaccinated when she received the Pfizer-BioNTech shot live on television.
This sparked some confusion — while an advisory panel recommended emergency use approval for Moderna's vaccine on Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to give the final verdict allowing distribution — expected later on Friday.
In a recent survey, people who said social distancing and COVID-safety guidelines violated their personal freedoms responded more positively to these ideas when they felt a loved one might be at risk of severe illness.
Dubai Electricity and Water Authority’s (DEWA’s) Jebel Ali Power Generation & Water Production Complex has been confirmed by Guinness World Records as the largest single-site natural gas power generation facility in the world.
An Emirati couple in Abu Dhabi is grateful for the support they have received, giving their seven-month old identical twins, found to be suffering from a rare disease, the chance to live and enjoy life.
A research team of undergraduate students at Khalifa University of Science and Technology have designed and implemented a complete prototype of an electric flying car. This research, which was presented as a graduation project, marks the beginning of futuristic flying cars that will be developed and manufactured in the UAE.
Pursuant to the directives of Sheikh Sultan, the Directorate of Human Resources, in co-ordination and co-operation with all government departments, authorities and institutions in the emirate employed 73 job seekers in January and February.
Dr Tariq Sultan Bin Khadim, Member of Sharjah Executive Council, affirmed that Sheikh Sultan is keen on launching initiatives and issuing directives and decisions for supporting the employment of national cadres and enhance their competitive capabilities to enter the labor market according to corporate plans and strategies and lead the sustainable government development processes.