US authorizes its first COVID-19 vaccine, as confirmed cases near 16 million
Published: Dec 12, 2020 09:52 PM


The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized Friday the first COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in the US. This vaccine, developed by Pfizer and German company BioNTech, is now available to Americans. This vaccine has also been recently authorized to be used in the UK and Canada.

The Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine will be the first Covid-19 vaccine used in the US. An emergency use authorization means what its name suggests: a medical product that gets special authorization by the FDA to be used during an emergency. This is short of a full approval. Pfizer and BioNTech need to file a separate application for its vaccine to be fully licensed by the FDA.

"The FDA's authorization for emergency use of the first COVID-19 vaccine is a significant milestone in battling this devastating pandemic that has affected so many families in the United States and around the world," US FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a statement.

As of Friday, the number of confirmed cases in the US reached 15.83 million, with nearly 300,000 deaths.

Shots for health workers and nursing home residents are expected to commence in the coming days. The US federal government has already prepared 2.9 million vaccine doses to ship in the next few days.

According to CNN, earlier on Friday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn he needed to grant an emergency use authorization for Pfizer/BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine by the end of Friday, and if not, he would have to resign.

However, many experts still have many doubts about the safety of this vaccine. Recently, the US FDA pointed out in a report that four volunteers vaccinated with this vaccine developed Bell's palsy-- a partial paralysis in the face. This caused public concern. CNBC reported that the US federal government will continue to monitor occurrences of Bell's palsy among people who receive Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine.
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