ANKARA

The European Union aims to start COVID-19 vaccination before the end of 2020, the EU’s drug agency announced Tuesday.

European Medicines Agency (EMA) said in a written statement that the meeting to issue a decision on the vaccine will be held on Dec. 21, eight days earlier than planned.

EU Commission head Ursula von der Leyen took to Twitter to welcome EMA’s decision, saying: “Every day counts — we work at full speed to authorize COVID-19 vaccines that are safe and effective.”

“Likely that the first Europeans will be vaccinated before end 2020!” she added.

EMA’s statement came after German Health Minister Jens Spahn said they expect the approval for the COVID-19 vaccine before Christmas.

The EU has made agreements to purchase about 2 billion doses of vaccine with six companies that have so far conducted “promising” vaccine studies, including 300 million from Pfizer and BioNTech.

The bloc also signed contracts with Moderna, AstraZeneca, CureVac, Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi-GlaxoSmithKline.

The EMA is a European Union agency that authorizes the use of medicines across the member states.

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