US okays Pfizer vaccine for emergency use, Trump says first shot in 24 hours

Washington, Dec 11 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump said on late Friday that the first shot of a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech would be administered in the United States in less than 24 hours.

The announcement by the outgoing president came shortly after the US Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of the vaccine.

Trump said that the distribution of the Pfizer vaccine had already begun across the country.

“Through our partnership with FedEx and UPS, we have already begun shipping the vaccine to every state and zip code in the country,” Trump said in a televised speech from the Oval Office.

The drug regulator signed the authorization, saying it was for emergency use of the first Covid-19 vaccine in the US to battle the devastating pandemic that has infected nearly 16 million people and claimed a little less than 300,000 lives in the country.

In his speech, Trump said that governors in their states would decide who would receive the shots first.

He said the government wanted the elderly, health, and emergency workers to be inoculated first to “quickly and dramatically reduce deaths and hospitalizations” due to the deadly infection that has gripped the world.

He said that “when the virus from China invaded US coasts” he had promised that America would produce a vaccine in record time before the end of the year.

“The United states is the first nation in the world to produce a verifiably safe and effective vaccine. Today’s achievement is a reminder of America’s unlimited potential,” Trump said.

The vaccines that Trump announced are being distributed throughout the country are part of the first batch with 2.9 million doses that the officials in charge of the delivery operation assured that they could be sent in the first 24 hours after authorization.

Earlier, the US drug regulator signed the authorization hours after White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows warned FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn that he needed to grant an emergency use authorization for the vaccine by the end of Friday or else he would have to resign.

In a statement, Hahn said the authorization for emergency use of the first Covid-19 vaccine “follows an open and transparent review process that included input from independent scientific and public health experts and a thorough evaluation by the agency’s career scientists.”

He said that the FDA followed its rigorous, scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorization.

“The tireless work to develop a new vaccine to prevent this novel, serious, and life-threatening disease in an expedited timeframe after its emergence is a true testament to scientific innovation and public-private collaboration worldwide.”

The US became the sixth country in the world to authorize the Pfizer vaccine after the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico.

The emergency authorization, an exceptional process before the approval, happened after an advisory committee on vaccines of the FDA on Thursday gave its nod with 17 votes in favor, only four against, and one abstention to the Pfizer vaccine.

Pfizer’s vaccine comes at the worst moment of the pandemic for the US that averages over 200,000 infections a day. The country also topped 3,000 daily earlier in the week.

Pfizer has agreed to supply 100 million doses of the vaccine by next March under a pact with the US government.

The drugmaker has promised to supply 25 million doses before the end of the year.

The first batch with 2.9 million doses could be distributed across the United States within the next 24 hours, according to federal officials.

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