Europe's medicines regulator was on Monday assessing the Covid-19 vaccine developed by US company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, and a green light would put Europe on course to start inoculations within a week.
If clearance is granted by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the final hurdle is approval by the European Commission, which would be expected to follow by Wednesday.
Commission head Ursula von der Leyen last week said that European Union countries would begin inoculating people over Dec. 27-29.
The regulator in Switzerland, which is not an EU member, approved the vaccine at the weekend.
Following are plans for the European rollout.
The Swiss will start selected vaccinations of especially vulnerable people this week. A nationwide programme starts on Jan. 4, with the goal of providing free inoculations to everyone who wants one by mid-2021
Germany will start vaccinations on Dec. 27, with priority given to the elderly in care homes.
Health minister Jens Spahn had expressed frustration at the lack of approval of a vaccine that was partly developed in Germany and had already been cleared for use in Britain and the United States.
Italy will also begin vaccinations on Dec. 27, the Health Ministry said last week. Italy is set to receive an initial 1.83 million shots from Pfizer, with the first inoculations to be given to health workers.
France will also start its Covid-19 vaccination programme next Sunday, Dec. 27, Health Minister Olivier Veran wrote on his Twitter feed on Monday.
The French programme would start off with the most vulnerable members of the population, such as the elderly, Veran added.
Austria, Spain and Bulgaria have also announced plans to start to vaccinate citizens two days after Christmas.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said he expects vaccinations to start on Dec. 27 or Dec. 28, adding that the country's first vaccine shipment will be enough to inoculate about 35,000 people.
The Netherlands will begin inoculation on Jan. 8, health minister Hugo de Jonge said last week.
"We have opted for a planning that is careful, safe and responsible," De Jonge said in a letter to parliament.