Pfizer, BioNTech to seek emergency COVID-19 vaccine nod on Friday

Concerns mount about the Korean government’s slow process in securing Covid-19 vaccines from foreign developers

The twin breakthroughs have lifted hopes for an end to a pandemic that has infected more than 56 million people and caused over 1.3 million deaths worldwide since the virus first emerged in China late a year ago.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine - and Moderna's candidate - are made with brand-new technology.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said its vaccines committee would meet on December 10 to discuss the request for emergency use authorization.

Instead of the usual requirement of "substantial evidence" of safety and effectiveness for approval, the FDA can allow products onto the market as long as their benefits are likely to outweigh their risks.

"Filing for Emergency Use Authorization in the U.S. is a critical step in making our vaccine candidate available to the global population as quickly as possible", said Ugur Sahin, MD, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech, in a prepared statement.

Echoing the positive message, EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said the bloc could approve both vaccines "as early as the second half of December". Only mild side effects, such as fatigue and headache, were reported.

Ohio, Minnesota and NY are among other states imposing tough restrictions.

More than 13,000 people have signed an online "Keep NYC Schools Open" petition which calls the city's decision to close schools for its 1.1 million students but leave open its bars and gyms "nonsensical".

USA health authorities cautioned Americans on Thursday against travelling for the Thanksgiving holiday next week, as the coronavirus spreads. A senior official told United States media the process will take several weeks. "It's a strong recommendation".

Kayla Rivas is a Health reporter and joined Fox News in April 2020.

Japan was also on "maximum alert" after logging a record 2,000 daily infections with almost 500 in the capital Tokyo alone, though no immediate restrictions were planned.

What's the Covid situation in the US?

"We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development program at a time when the world needs it most with infection rates setting new records, hospitals nearing over-capacity, and economies struggling to reopen", he said. The first primary objective analysis-efficacy in patients without prior infection-was based on 170 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

President Emmanuel Macron and top ministers will discuss easing some restrictions from December 1, though officials warned the country was still far from the end of its lockdown.

Stopping people from getting infected at all, and thus being able to transmit the virus forward, is a secondary goal for Moderna.

Face-to-face meetings between the chief negotiators in Brexit talks were suspended on Thursday after a member of the European Union team tested positive for coronavirus.

Should a participant develop any severe reactions to the vaccine, it is likely to occur within six weeks of receiving it.

Noting no new cases had been detected since September 15, the government said most restrictions it parts of the North Jutland region, home to 280,000 people, would be lifted on Friday. The deal between Brussels and CureVac reportedly includes a 225 million dose mandatory purchase, with the option to buy 180 million more doses, for a total of 405 million, and 4.05 billion euros.

Ireland said Thursday that it was planning a nationwide cull of mink on its commercial farms, which are reported to house around 100,000 animals.

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