An FDA-advisory-committee vote has marked the beginning of the end of the pandemic. But there’s still a long road ahead.
In a historic moment during the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, an FDA advisory committee voted today in favor of authorizing the first vaccine against COVID-19. The formal implementation of this recommendation, which would allow the vaccine to be given to anyone 16 or older, is expected to follow imminently.
This marks the beginning of a new and hopeful phase in a crisis that has killed nearly 300,000 Americans and caused widespread economic collapse. Having endured more deaths than any other country, the U.S. has manufactured hundreds of thousands of doses in anticipation of this moment. Vaccines should be available for some Americans next week, with doses going to health-care workers and older adults at the highest risk of serious complications from COVID-19.
The vaccine is the product of a collaboration between the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech, which have been coordinating with regulators since development began months ago. In a video meeting today of independent experts who were tasked with evaluating the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, complete with numerous instances of accidental self-muting, the panel expressed overwhelming confidence, with some members dissenting or abstaining over the precise age cutoff.