EU drug watchdog urges longer approval process after UK authorises Pfizer COVID shot

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union's drug regulator said on Wednesday that its longer approval process for COVID-19 vaccines was safer, after Britain granted an emergency authorisation to the experimental shot being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.

Asked about the UK approval of the Pfizer vaccine, the European Medicines Agency said: "EMA considers that the conditional marketing authorisation is the most appropriate regulatory mechanism for use in the current pandemic emergency." It said that procedure was based on more evidence and more checks than the emergency procedure chosen by Britain.

EMA said on Tuesday it will decide by Dec. 29 whether to authorise Pfizer's vaccine.

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio, Editing by Catherine Evans)