WASHINGTON: U.S. medical experts in a particular government advisory panel has suggested emergency authorisation of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, is an essential step towards its extensive use in the country, worst-hit by the pandemic.
After a ten-hour public hearing on Thursday, (VRBPAC) the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee and (FDA) Food and Drug Administration voted 17 to 4 with one abstention to approve the vaccine developed by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech– based in Germany– to battle the disease that took the lives of 292,000 people in the U.S.
An emergency use authorisation is devoid of full approval. For full FDA recommendation, Pfizer would have to file a different application for its vaccine. Thursday’s public hearing does not mean the vaccine will be authorised right away, according to the U.S. media.
Paul Offit, a medical expert with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said, “There is an understandable benefit, and all we have on the other end is theoretical risks.”
The vaccine’s potential benefits exceed its risks, he said.
Another member of the committee and a pediatric infectious disease expert, Ofer Levy, said, “It’s a huge achievement.” She is also the head of the precision vaccine programme at the Children’s hospital in Boston.
The Pfizer vaccine has already been sanctioned for the general public in Canada, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
The approval comes a day after the United States recorded more than 3000 deaths in one day- the highest total in 24 hours anywhere in the world.
The drug still needs to be officially sanctioned by the FDA’s vaccine chief.
While the FDA is not indeed mandated to accept the proposal of the advisory body, its is expected to do so the following week as the administration prepares to ship millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Americans throughout the country, with priority being given to the elderly.