WASHINGTON — Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine was endorsed Thursday, Dec. 10, by a U.S. government advisory panel for widespread use.
The Food and Drug Administration is expected to sign off on the expert committee’s recommendation, paving the way for shots to begin right away. The FDA could grant emergency use authorization of Pfizer’s vaccine as early as Friday.
“This is a light at the end of the long tunnel of this pandemic,” declared Dr. Sally Goza, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In a 17-4 vote with one abstention, the government advisers concluded that the vaccine from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech appears safe and effective for emergency use in adults and teenagers 16 and over.
That endorsement came despite questions about allergic reactions in two people who received the vaccine earlier this week when Britain became the first country to dispense the Pfizer-BioNTech shot.
The decision came as COVID-19 cases surge to ever-higher levels across the U.S., with deaths setting an all-time, one-day record of more than 3,100 on Wednesday.
Pfizer has said it will have about 25 million doses of the two-shot vaccine for the U.S. by the end of December.
But the initial supplies will be reserved primarily for health care workers and nursing home residents, with other vulnerable groups next in line until ramped-up production enables shots to become widely available on demand — something that will probably not happen until the spring.
Next week, the FDA will review a second vaccine, from Moderna and the National Institutes of Health, that appears about as protective as Pfizer-BioNTech’s shot.
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.
— Associated Press contributed to this report.