The European Union’s pharmaceutical regulator said Friday that it approved manufacturing sites for coronavirus vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca, a move that will significantly increase the supply of the vaccines in Europe and speed up vaccination efforts on the continent.
The European Medicines Agency said in a statement that it had approved sites in the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland for COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by the drugmakers.
The 27-nation bloc is fighting to speed up COVID-19 vaccination, and repeated distribution delays and manufacturing problems.
The agency said it approved a plant in Leiden, the Netherlands, to manufacture the active ingredient in AstraZeneca’s vaccine, for a total of four licensed sites.
The EU regulator said it also gave the green light to a site in Marburg, Germany, to make both the active substance and the full vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer.
It added that it would grant more flexible storage conditions to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which was approved knowing that it needs extremely cold temperatures for storage and distribution.
It (the approval) is anticipated to facilitate the rapid introduction and distribution of the vaccine in the EU by reducing the need for ultra-low-temperature storage conditions throughout the supply chain, the regulator said.
Last week, an expert committee at the agency recommended new manufacturing lines at a facility in Visp, Switzerland, for Moderna Inc.’s vaccine.
These changes are intended to increase production capacity and supply of the vaccine to the EU market, the regulator said.
On Thursday, EU leaders failed to resolve a dispute over the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines among member states, but vowed to tighten export controls on the vaccine and vaccine production on EU soil at a time when doses are in short supply and new cases are on the rise.