News/Op-Ed: The Race For A COVID-19 Vaccine Is Over

by Pedro Ochoa

Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE received U.S. regulatory authorization for their COVID-19 vaccine on December 11, making it the first vaccine company to get the green light in the United States.

Shipping containers with the COVID-19 vaccine being distributed across the U.S.

U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and German partner BioNTech are the coronavirus vaccine front runners.

The nation’s first COVID-19 vaccine will begin arriving in states Monday morning, as the outbreak has killed nearly 300,000 Americans

Trucks rolled out Sunday morning as shipping companies UPS and FedEx begin delivering Pfizer’s vaccine to nearly 150 distribution centers across the states. Initially, about 3 million shots are expected to be shipped nationwide.

It was unclear exactly who would receive the first doses of the vaccine, though health workers and nursing home residents were the priority. Perna said health authorities would decide.

A similar number of shots will be held back for those recipients’ second dose, which is needed for full protection from COVID-19.

Distribution locations include hospitals and other sites able to meet those ultra-cold storage requirements. Within three weeks, vaccines should be delivered to all vaccination sites identified by state governments, such as local pharmacies, Perna said.

The vaccine was timed to arrive Monday morning so that health workers would be available to receive the shots and begin giving them.

While determined to be safe, regulators in the U.K. are investigating several severe allergic reactions. The FDA’s instructions tell providers not to give it to those with a known history of severe allergic reactions to any of its ingredients.

The FDA next week will review a second vaccine from Moderna and the National Institutes of Health that appears about as protective as Pfizer’s shot. It was next to release full data analysis for a late-stage trial on Nov. 30, with its vaccine showing a 94.1% efficacy rate. FDA advisers are due to review it on Dec. 17 and the EMA will do so by Jan. 12.

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