As UK Begins Shots, Progress on US Front

Pfizer candidate clears hurdle ahead of crucial Thursday meeting
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 8, 2020 11:09 AM CST
As UK Begins Shots, Progress on US Front
A vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, as the mass public vaccination program gets underway, at the NHS Louisa Jordan Hospital in Glasgow, Scotland, Tuesday.   (Jeff J Mitchell/Pool via AP)

It's a big news day for COVID vaccines on three fronts:

  • The UK began its first vaccinations.
  • In the US, health regulators say in their initial review that Pfizer's vaccine is 95% protective, per the AP. The review posted online Tuesday by the FDA comes before a Thursday meeting where a panel of independent experts will scrutinize the data and vote on whether to recommend use. The FDA usually follows the group’s guidance. A US decision to allow use of the vaccine is expected within days.

  • New results on a possible vaccine from Oxford University and AstraZeneca suggest it is safe and about 70% effective, per the AP. However, questions remain about how well it may help protect those over 55—a key concern for a vaccine that health officials hope to rely on around the world because of its low cost, availability, and ease of use. Still, experts say the vaccine seems likely to be approved, despite some confusion in the results and lower levels of protection than what other vaccine candidates have shown. “What we can see looks reasonable, but it’s a bit more complicated than what we’ve seen so far,” says Dr. Buddy Creech, a Vanderbilt University researcher helping to test two other vaccines. “If this had been the first report out, the field would have still been excited to have a vaccine.”
(More coronavirus vaccine stories.)

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