'Every week counts' as Austria, Greece, Denmark seek quick EU OK for AstraZeneca vaccine: Kurz

FILE PHOTO: Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz speaks during a news conference, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Vienna, Austria January 17, 2021. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria, Greece and Denmark will jointly pressure the European Medicines Agency to approve AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as possible, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Monday, adding: “Every week counts.”

Kurz was speaking before a European leaders’ virtual summit on Thursday, and a day after he said Austria’s lockdown was being extended until at least Feb. 7 as it tries to contain highly infectious new variants.

EMA, the EU drugs regulator, said last week it would review the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Britain’s Oxford University this month under an accelerated timeline.

“Every week counts,” Kurz told a news conference after a video call with various countries on dealing with the virus. “We expect that work be done day and night, that a decision be reached unbureaucratically and that Europe not fall behind.

“What is now needed is - based on all scientific facts, of course - an immediate and quick decision, because AstraZeneca can deliver up to two million doses in the first quarter for Austria alone, and that of course makes an enormous difference to our success in vaccinating the population.”

Austria has a population of just under nine million people.

Kurz also said part of the already-approved vaccine doses being supplied by Pfizer would arrive late, after Pfizer said it was temporarily reducing deliveries to Europe.

“Yes, there will now have to be a small adjustment here or there because it currently seems as though we will receive 20% less, which will then be caught up in February at the latest,” Kurz said.

Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Nick Macfie