The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization for the country's coronavirus vaccine, marking a significant turning point in the ongoing fight against the deadly pandemic.
According to the New York Times, the U.S. is expected to distribute 2.9 million doses of Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine over the next week, the first of which will begin going out within the next 24 hours. It's reported that the most vulnerable sects will be among the first to receive the vaccine; These will include health care workers as well as those who are at high risk of dying from infection, such as the elderly.
The FDA decision comes one day after an independent advisory committee recommended the agency to issue an EUA for the vaccine. Seventeen panels members voted in favor of the authorization based on clinical trials that found the vaccine to be 95 percent effective. Four committee members voted no, and one abstained.
President Donald Trump shared news of the EUA via Twitter on Friday night, calling the achievement a "medical miracle."
"We have delivered a safe and effective vaccine in just nine months. This is one of the greatest scientific accomplishments in history," he said in a video from the White House. "It will save millions of lives and soon end the pandemic once and for all. I'm thrilled to report the FDA has authorized the Pfizer vaccine ... On behalf of the American people, I'd like to thank all of the brilliant scientists, technicians, doctors, and workers who made this all possible ..."
Trump went on to say the vaccine, which will be given to people ages 16 and older, will be free to all Americans. POTUS also announced the government has already started to ship the vaccine through its partnerships with FedEx and UPS.
"Governors [will] decide where the vaccines go in their state and who will get them first," Trump continued. "We want our senior citizens, health care workers, and first responders to be first in line. This will quickly and dramatically reduced deaths and hospitalizations ... Today's achievement is a reminder of America's unlimited potential ... The pandemic may have begun in China, but we are ending it, right here, in America."
As noted by The Hill, the EUA allows the federal government to ship the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to states. However, the shots cannot be administered until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's advisory committee recommends the vaccine, and the CDC approves it. The committee is expected to conduct an emergency meeting on Saturday.
Stay tuned as more information becomes available.