The US Food and Drug Administration’s advisory panel is holding a key meeting to vote on authorising the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use as the US experienced its deadliest day of the pandemic.
It comes as Saudi Arabia followed the UK and Canada in approving the vaccine, although no timeline for mass immunisations has been given.
FDA commissioner Dr Stephen Hahn said the organisation would “act quickly” and its initial assessment indicated the jab did meet the criteria for an emergency rollout.
“I’m not going to prejudge what the advisory committee – which is a non-binding committee of scientific experts – will say to us. We’ll have to see what the scientific and medical discussion is today,” he told told NBC.
“Our plan is to take their recommendations into account for our decision making, and make a decision shortly thereafter.
“Again, it really depends upon the complexity of the issues discussed, but we intend to act quickly.”
Meanwhile about one-quarter of Americans have told a poll they would not get vaccinated and president Donald Trump remained preoccupied with the election result.
On the day of America’s highest COVID death count of 3112 – worse than September 11 – Mr Trump greeted an indoor Hanukkah party at the White House and boasted that a “miracle” election win was coming.
“All I ask for is people with wisdom and with courage, that’s all, because if certain very important people, if they have wisdom and if they have courage, we’re going to win this election in a landslide,” he said.
VIDEO: Trump tells the crowd at the Hanukkah party that with the help of “certain very important people, if they have wisdom and if they have courage, we are going to win this election.” — remarks followed with loud chants of “four more years.” pic.twitter.com/FjCyFGOqPC
— Jacob Kornbluh (@jacobkornbluh) December 10, 2020
He continued his obsession online, tweeting: “Great. Most corrupt Election in history, by far. We won!!!”
Another tweet read: “How can you give an election to someone who lost the election by hundreds of thousands of legal votes in each of the swing states. How can a country be run by an illegitimate president?”
Once the FDA authorises the coronavirus vaccine, shipping can begin but a mass vaccination program can’t start until the Centre for Disease Control’s advisory committee recommends its rollout.
The CDC committee has scheduled emergency meetings for Friday and Saturday (local time).
Gates Foundation pledge
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged an extra $US250 million ($334 million) to support the development of low-cost and easier to deliver treatments and vaccines against COVID-19.
The Gates Foundation’s latest contribution, its largest to date, comes on top of the $US70 million ($94 million) funding it added in November, bringing its total commitment to $US1.75 billion ($2.34 billion).
“Whether (the world) gets better for everyone depends on the actions of the world’s leaders and their commitment to deliver tests, treatments and vaccines to the people who need them,” Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, said.
The contribution will also support the delivery of tests and vaccines in low- and middle-income countries, the foundation added.
Pfizer’s vaccine does face challenges, especially in lower-income countries because of its ultra-cold storage requirements. It must be shipped and stored at minus 70C, significantly below the standard for vaccines of 2-8C.
“We have new drugs and more potential vaccines than we could have expected at the start of the year. But these innovations will only save lives if they get out into the world,” Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, said.
Another US drugmaker Moderna Inc, which has said its vaccine is 94.5 per cent effective in an interim analysis, has already applied for authorisation in the US and European Union.