Just days after announcing its COVID-19 vaccine has an efficacy rating of at least 95%, Pfizer has announced that it plans to ask the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization (EUA) today, reports CNBC. That request is the first step in getting the vaccine approved for use among the general public on a shortened timeline.
Normally, vaccines go through a lengthy review process before they are approved for public use. However, the FDA’s EUA mechanism allows for vaccines and other drugs to be brought to market more quickly if there is a compelling reason to do so. The compelling reason to bring a COVID-19 vaccine to market as soon as possible couldn’t be more obvious.
Announcing Pfizer’s EUA application today, the company’s CEO, Albert Bourla, said, “Filing in the U.S. represents a critical milestone in our journey to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine to the world and we now have a more complete picture of both the efficacy and safety profile of our vaccine, giving us confidence in its potential.”
As CNBC notes, there will still be a wait as the FDA reviews Pfizer’s EUA application. But that review is expected to take weeks—not months. Matter of fact, the FDA’s vaccines advisory committee already has a plan to meet to discuss COVID-19 vaccines on December 8-10. That means it’s possible the FDA could be close to approving Pfizer’s EUA shortly after that. If the EUA approval is granted swiftly, the Pfizer vaccine rollout may begin before the end of the year.
However, even if the EUA is granted, the chances of the average American receiving Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in 2020 is slim. The vaccine doses that are administered this year—if any will be—will likely go to front-line healthcare workers first, followed by the elderly and people with underlying health conditions. Still, as CNBC notes, Dr. Anthony Fauci has stated most Americans will likely have access to the vaccine by July of 2021.