The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally authorized the BioNTech-Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, marking a milestone in the country where virus cases have surged in recent weeks.
Millions of doses of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine, which has been found to be 95 percent effective, will be soon shipped around the United States so vaccinations can start within days.
FDA said the vaccine can be given to people aged 16 and older. Medical frontline health workers and senior citizens in care facilities are poised to be the first recipients of the vaccine.
President Donald Trump hailed the move as he expressed elation that the vaccine will be free for Americans.
“The first vaccine will be administered in less than 24 hours,” Trump said in a video posted on Twitter. “I am proud to say we have made sure this vaccine will be free for all Americans.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2020
The U.S. government said it will start distributing the vaccine across states immediately after FDA authorization and that the first inoculations would happen next week.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Friday said that the COVID-19 vaccination will likely start on Monday or Tuesday.
Millions of Americans could start getting vaccinated this December, especially if a second vaccine from Moderna is given the green light by authorities.
The United States is the third country in the world to have authorized the use of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer in partnership with the German firm BioNTech.
Canada’s health regulator earlier approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, a day after the United Kingdom became the first country in the world to roll it out.
The FDA’s move is crucial as several states in the country tightened restrictions due to the spike of COVID-19 cases.
The country on Thursday set a record for COVID-19 deaths for the second day in a row, surpassing 3,300.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield on Thursday warned that COVID-19 will kill more Americans daily for the next two to three months than died in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, or Pearl Harbor.
President-elect Joe Biden earlier assured that his administration will get at least 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots “into the arms of the American people” during his first 100 days in office.
As of this posting, total COVID-19 cases in the country climbed to 16 million, with 296,000 deaths recorded