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Pfizer to seek emergency coronavirus vaccine approval

WASHINGTON — Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech will seek emergency government approval for their coronavirus vaccine, as the U.S. aims to begin administering doses by the end of the year.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the companies would seek an emergency use authorization Friday from the Food and Drug Administration. The application and clinical trial data will be reviewed by an independent board of scientists before approval is granted.

Azar says: “Hope and help are on the way.”

This week the companies said their vaccine was 95 percent effective.

Albert Bourla, Pfizer chief executive, told British broadcaster Sky News the company would be seeking approval from regulatory authorities across the world “within a couple of days” and it was ready to distribute the first of 20 million doses.

“Our goal is to start shipping in a couple of hours after we receive the green light,” he said.

By the end of the year Bourla said he expected the company to have made 50 million doses of the vaccine and the firm would be able to fulfill the 1.3 billion doses promised in 2021.

Despite the news Bourla acknowledged it would take time for large majorities of the population to be vaccinated but was optimistic about a return to normal life next year.

Moderna is expected to file for emergency approval for its own vaccine candidate in the coming weeks.