Pfizer will apply for emergency permission to distribute its covid-19 vaccine in the US and is ready to start shipping the shots within “hours” of getting a government green light, the firm said today. It is the first such application from any of the makers of covid-19 vaccines that are currently in development.
If it is approved, the first people to get the shot are likely to be doctors, nurses, and other front-line workers, and that could happen before Christmas, according to the drug giant. Pfizer is also sharing information with regulators in Canada, the European Union, and Japan.
In a statement, Pfizer’s CEO, Albert Bourla, said the vaccine’s development took “248 long days and nights,” involving 43,661 volunteers at 150 locations in the US, Turkey, and South Africa. Pfizer claims its vaccine has proved to be 95% effective in its final trials.
Pfizer and its partner, German firm BioNtech, believe they can produce about 50 million doses by January, and as many as 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021. Each recipient needs two doses, spaced weeks apart. “The companies will be ready to distribute the vaccine within hours after authorization,” Pfizer said.
While Pfizer’s vaccine may be the first to win authorization in the US, vaccine organizations say shots from several other companies will still be needed. That’s because no one company, or technology, can meet global demand for vaccination.