Covid: US approves emergency use of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

  • ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore gives an update on the vaccine in the US

The US has approved its first coronavirus vaccine, with the initial doses set to be administered in less than 24 hours.

Nursing home residents and healthcare worker will be first line to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which the UK approved last week.

President Donald Trump said Pfizer had “passed the gold standard of safety,” in a video statement hailing the vaccine as “one of the greatest scientific accomplishments in history.”

About three million doses of the vaccine are expected in the first shipments around the country, according to officials with Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s vaccine development program. A similar amount is to be held in reserve for those recipients’ second dose.

The government still is hammering out final recommendations, but expected to follow health workers and nursing homes are other essential workers, older adults and people at high risk because of other health problems.

US authorities don’t expect enough for the general population before spring, and that’s assuming there are no manufacturing glitches.

Pfizer's vaccine has now received approval in several countries. Credit: AP

Dr. Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech, said: “We would need at least until March, April, to have an impact on the pandemic."

He predicted that protecting the most vulnerable could start putting a dent in hospitals and deaths sooner.

Globally, Sahin said production should scale up considerably in February, with the companies projecting 120 million to 130 million doses a month to reach 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

Officials will be hoping this signifies an end to America's struggles dealing with Covid-19, with the virus having claimed nearly 300,000 American lives.