US clears Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, first shot in 24 hours
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday authorized Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, clearing the way for its mass rollout across the United States. The approval is a historic moment as the pandemic, which began late last year in China, has claimed more than 2,90,000 lives in the country. Here are more details on this.
"I am authorizing the emergency use of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID‑19 vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19," FDA chief scientist Denise Hinton wrote in a letter to the drug company. Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has lauded the development and promised that the first shot will be administered in "less than 24 hours."
"Through our partnership with FedEx and UPS, we have already begun shipping the vaccine to every state and zip code in the country," President Trump further said in a televised address. He added that governors would decide as to who would receive vaccine shots first in the state. An initial shipment of 2.9 million doses will be transported across US over the next week.
The US has become the sixth country to clear the vaccine, after Britain, Bahrain, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Mexico. Other authorizations, including by the European Union, are expected in a matter of weeks. US will now undertake a complex distribution process to ship millions of vaccine doses to hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and long-term care facilities across the country.
Notably, Pfizer has a deal with the US government to supply 100 million (10 crore) doses of the vaccine by next March. Under the agreement, the vaccine will be administered to the public free of cost. The coronavirus pandemic has infected 1.62 crore and killed nearly 3,00,000 across US. Globally, the disease has sickened 7.14 crore and claimed the lives of over 16 lakh.
The US is looking to vaccinate 20 million (2 crore) people this month, as it hopes to get a second vaccine, developed by Moderna and the National Institutes of Health, to come through next week.