COVID-19: US FDA panel votes in favor of authorizing Pfizer’s vaccine

A US government advisory panel gave its approval for the widespread use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, taking the country another step forward to launching a full scale vaccination campaign against the pandemic which has killed close to 300,000 Americans.

All eyes now turn to the FDA staff scientists who will give their acceptance for the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The panel of government advisers on Thursday concluded that the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech appears to be safe and effective for emergency use in adults and teenagers over 16-years of age. The votes were 17-4 in favour. 

This endorsement has come at a time when questions have been raised the alleged allergic reactions in two people who received the the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine shot earlier this week in Britain.

Pfizer claimed that it will have about 25 million doses of the two-shot vaccine ready for the US by the end of December.

The supplies will be reserved primarily for health care workers and nursing home residents, with other vulnerable groups next in line.

Experts estimate at least 70% of the US population will have to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. It means that it could take upto several months before things start get back to normal and Americans can put away their masks.

Meanwhile, the FDA will review a second vaccine, from Moderna and the National Institutes of Health next week. A third candidate, from Johnson & Johnson, which would require just one dose, is working its way through the pipeline. Behind that is a candidate from AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

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(With input from agencies)

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COVID-19: US FDA panel votes in favor of authorizing Pfizer's vaccine