WHO sees limited rollout of Pfizer vaccine by end-Jan

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FILE PHOTO: Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine photo illustration

GENEVA/ZURICH (Reuters) - The World Health Organization expects to give emergency use approval for the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech this month, with a limited roll-out starting by late January, officials said on Monday.

WHO assistant director general Mariangela Simao said in a briefing the global health body could decide on Pfizer's vaccine candidate by the end of the year.

A roll-out in a limited number of countries will take place by end-January or early February as part of the COVAX programme, led by the WHO to provide shots for poor- and middle-income countries, Soumya Swaminathan, WHO chief scientist, said.

The comments came as Europe's drug watchdog gave the green light for the use of the shot, taking the region a step closer to mass inoculation of the 450 million population as the United States and Britain roll out the vaccine.

(Reporting by Emma Farge in Geneva and Michael Shields in Zurich; Writing by Josephine Mason; editing by David Evans)