The European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Monday recommended approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
Why it matters: The milestone means the vaccine is just a step away from being distributed to millions of people in the European Union's 27 countries.
- The vaccine has been found to be 95% effective with no serious side effects.
- The European Commission will likely grant marketing authorization over the next 48 hours, paving the way for vaccinations to begin in most European countries over the next few days.
Between the lines: The EMA said there is no evidence to suggest that the vaccine will not be effective against the new coronavirus variant found in the U.K..
- Those authorizations put pressure on the EU to move faster, after the bureaucratic bloc was criticized for acting slowly as thousands of people died of COVID-19 each day.
- The EMA subsequently pushed its date forward for making the decision, moving it to Monday from Dec. 29.
- The agency will make a decision on Moderna's vaccine on Jan. 6.