There may be a glimmer of hope in the global fight against COVID-19 as cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to rise. The first shipments of the approved Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine shipped over the weekend under the escort of U.S. Marshalls.
This marks a critical milestone in the fight against COVID-19 (also known as the coronavirus). Healthcare workers and nursing home residents throughout the country will be the first to receive the vaccine although it is unclear specifically which cities will receive it first. (The vaccine has been reportedly shipped to all 50 states despite some political issues that had plagued the vaccine distribution early on.)
While it usually takes longer to approve a vaccine, the FDA’s vaccine advisory panel, which is made up of independent scientific experts, infectious disease doctors, and statisticians, voted 17 to 4, with one member abstaining, in favor of emergency authorization for people 16 and older. With rare exceptions, the FDA follows the advice of its advisory panels.
With the first batch of vaccines packaged and ready for shipment, the country waited on the blessing of the CDC. Late Saturday, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, accepted an advisory committee’s recommendation to that effect late Saturday, meaning it can now be administered in the United States. Shipments began distribution late Saturday night.
The shipments were escorted by armed U.S. Marshalls and FedEx and UPS planes carrying the vaccine were given priority clearance out of Michigan, where the first batch of the vaccine was made.
Another 3,900 vials are expected to ship later Sunday to United States territories, and 400 boxes packed with about 390,000 vials will ship Monday to arrive Tuesday. There are five doses of vaccine per vial, according to Pfizer.
The vaccine reportedly has a 95% success rate with limited side effects.
According to Moncef Slaoui, head of US coronavirus vaccine efforts, the US plans to distribute 40 million vaccine doses by year’s end, followed by 50 to 80 million doses in January and in February as part of what is “operation Warp Speed,” an effort to combat the deadly virus,