FDA’s Pfizer coronavirus vaccine approval may come Saturday, committee member says

An advisory committee member said the Food and Drug Administration may decide on Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine emergency use authorization application as early as Saturday.

Dr. Paul Offit, who voted in favor of the vaccine during Thursday’s committee meeting, told MSNBC that he expects the FDA is “probably going to approve it by Saturday.”

That projected timeline could see the first vaccines distributed to high priority populations in the U.S. as early as Monday.

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“So my sense is what’s going to happen today is the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] is going to discuss what they think about whether or not they would recommend this vaccine, but they can’t really recommend it until the FDA has approved it,” Offit told MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson. “So then I think they’re going to discuss it today. The FDA is probably going to approve it by Saturday and then the CDC is going to vote on Sunday so that by Monday the vaccine could be rolling out and being given to American citizens.”

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Pfizer and BioNTech have indicated that the first allotment of vaccines would be ready to ship within hours of FDA approval. In a joint statement issued on Friday, FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn and Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said that the regulatory agency will “rapidly work toward finalization and issuance of an emergency use authorization.”

“The agency has also notified the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Operation Warp Speed, so they can execute their plans for timely vaccine distribution,” the statement said.

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Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar also predicted that the first vaccines will be distributed as early as this coming Monday or Tuesday.