The coronavirus vaccine. A fluid ever-changing plan that will most likely be different by the time this article is published. Currently, cases are spiking in most metropolises across the US as the race for an effective vaccine is underway. Subsequently, on Friday, December 11th, the FDA finally granted emergency authorization of a vaccine created by Pfizer and BioNTech, set to start distribution almost immediately.
It was declared by federal officials that in the first 24 hours following the FDA’s clearing that 2.9 million doses were set to leave warehouses (NYT). These doses will be split up into two groups; one set to be delivered across the country while the other will be amassed for initial recipients to be reinoculated around three weeks later (Washington Post). This announcement was sure to draw international attention as the death toll continues to climb.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, along with countless other acclaimed doctors have taken initiative by addressing the public themselves. Specifically, calling out to those against the vaccine, hoping to sway their opinions by utilizing data proving the high efficacy of each dosage as well as comparing the safety of this vaccine to past presented options (CNN). President Trump has also made statements regarding the vaccine in order to remain transparent with the general public, and to keep reviews as “apolitical” as possible (Washington Post). Though his poor uniformity of mask policies across the US has not done anything but add to the unnecessary political argument behind Covid-19.
That being said, the first question most civilians are concerned with right now is how long until we can get the vaccine. Right now, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will only be open to those above the age of 16, and the first in line will be the most vulnerable, healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities. As manufacturing speeds up, states will start to give broader access, and move down the line of who is most susceptible. (CNN)
Additionally, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has already been approved in Britain, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain, after a clinical study demonstrated that it is “95% effective at preventing disease.” (Washington Post). Given the pressure of a global pandemic, it is fairly impressive that they were able to create such an effective dose, especially given their time frame.
The average time to develop other notable vaccines is nearly 10.7 years (Washington Post), and the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine was developed in just over 11 months. Similar to the time frame used by biotech company Moderna to develop another coronavirus vaccine that is also on its way to being FDA approved. (NYT)
While this is all a step in the right direction, a lot of plausible obstacles lay in the path of the extermination of Covid-19. Scaling manufacturing as well as overcoming those who refuse to receive the vaccination are just two of many challenges that will continue to disrupt distribution. However, in the end, we are on our way to a better future.