The European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended authorizing the one-dose Covid-19 vaccine developed by US manufacturer Johnson & Johnson for use in all adults in the European Union on Thursday.
“Authorities across the EU will have another option to combat the pandemic and protect the lives and health of their citizens,” EMA Director Emer Cooke said in a statement published online by the EU regulator.
Clinical trials involving more than 44,000 people in several countries showed the vaccine to have an efficacy rate of 67 per cent, the EMA noted, adding that the drug met key criteria for safety and quality.
The European Commission still has to give its official go-ahead before the drug can hit the market, but this is a formality expected to take place this evening.
The EU has already pre-ordered up to 200 million doses for its population of 450 million, with the option to order another 200 million.
In contrast to other EU-authorized jabs, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine only needs to be administered once.
However, according to media reports, deliveries of the shot to the 27-member bloc aren’t expected to start for several weeks due to capacity issues.
This is the fourth vaccine to receive the EU agency’s OK. It was developed by the company’s subsidiary Janssen in the Netherlands.
Johnson & Johnson’s drug already got the green light in the United States.
On behalf of its member states, the EU executive branch has negotiated six contracts with pharmaceutical firms supplying shots against the deadly respiratory disease.
But delivery difficulties have seen EU states lag behind frontrunners like Israel or Britain. Just 10 per cent of EU citizens have had one shot so far, compared to 35 per cent in Britain, figures from the University of Oxford’s Our World in Data project show.
Covid-19 has claimed 876,000 lives in Europe so far, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. These figures also include Britain and Russia.