The U.S. gave full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, a milestone that may help lift public confidence in the shots as the nation battles the most contagious coronavirus mutant yet.
The vaccine made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech now carries the strongest endorsement from the Food and Drug Administration, which has never before had so much evidence to judge a shot’s safety. More than 200 million Pfizer doses already have been administered in the U.S.—and hundreds of millions more worldwide—since emergency use began in December.
“The public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product,” says acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock. “Today’s milestone puts us one step closer to altering the course of this pandemic in the U.S.”
The U.S. becomes the first country to fully approve the shot, according to Pfizer, and CEO Albert Bourla says in a statement that he hopes the decision “will help increase confidence in our vaccine, as vaccination remains the best tool we have to help protect lives.”
U.S. vaccinations bottomed out in July. As delta fills hospital beds, shots are on the rise again—with a million a day given Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Just over half of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated with one of the country’s three options, from Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.
The FDA’s action also may spur more vaccine mandates by companies, universities and local governments. This month New York City, New Orleans and San Francisco all imposed proof-of-vaccination requirements at restaurants, bars and other indoor venues. At the federal level, President Joe Biden is requiring government workers to sign forms that they’ve been vaccinated or else submit to regular testing and other requirements.
Pfizer’s shot still has only emergency authorization for 12- to 15-year-olds. Read the full story.