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The Food and Drug Administration has approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, paving way for close to three million highly-vulnerable Americans to receive the vaccine next week.
In a letter to Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE) on Friday, the FDA revealed it had issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the use of the vaccine. FDA’s chief scientist Denise Hinton stated that the coronavirus pandemic has the potential to affect national security and the health of US citizens, justifying the EUA.
The authorization comes at a crucial time for the US. The death tally from the coronavirus has continued rising steadily, with over 295,000 now succumbing to the deadly virus. On Wednesday, the country set the record for highest single day death toll at 3,124. Just a day later, it set a new record at 3,300, with Friday’s death toll dropping slightly to 2,950.
The FDA clearance could finally offer reprieve for the US, with frontline workers set to be the first recipients. As per the New York Times, Pfizer will ship 2.9 million doses of the vaccine in the coming week. Every state, and six major cities, have already submitted a list of locations where the vaccine will ship to immediately. In some states like Florida, five hospitals will receive the vaccine first, including in Jacksonville, Orlando and Miami. In smaller states like Vermont, only the University of Vermont Medical Center and a state warehouse will get the vaccine.
Pfizer struck a deal with the US government to supply 100 million doses of the vaccine by March next year. The pharmaceuticals giant expects to ship just 50 million doses this year, to the US and other countries that have approved its use. The vaccine distribution will involve logistics firms, the military, local healthcare providers and pharmaceutical firms.
What’s Next for the Vaccine by Pfizer and BioNTech?
Pfizer started working on the vaccine with its German partner BioNTech SE (NASDAQ: BNTX) in March at the onset of the pandemic. While vaccines typically take years, sometimes decades, to develop, the two companies have had to fast-track their process. The FDA’s approval for the vaccine is also the fastest in history.
As the NY Times reports, the fast approval may have had a lot to do with the Trump’s administration arm twisting tactics. The paper claims that Trump‘s chief of staff Mark Meadows called the FDA commission Dr. Stephen Hann, telling him to look for another job if his agency didn’t approve the vaccine by Friday. Dr. Hann allegedly then ordered his agency to approve the vaccine by the end of the day on Friday, which they did.
However, Dr. Hann has denied these allegations. He claimed that the government only “encouraged him to continue working expeditiously.”
While the vaccine could finally give the Americans a solution to the pandemic, there are still some issues to solve. The first is the preparedness of some hospitals to receive and distribute it, especially in rural areas and inner cities. The vaccine requires a storage temperature of minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, yet another biotech company, Moderna Inc (NASDAQ: MRNA) may have the solution. As Coinspeaker reported, the company submitted an application for approval of its vaccine two weeks ago. This vaccine only requires a storage temperature of minus 4 degrees Farenheit and can be stored for up to six months.
The US becomes the sixth country to approve the Pfizer vaccine. Mexico, Bahrain, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Britain have given their nod for the vaccine. The European Union is set to gives its approval in a few weeks as well.