United Airlines transported Pfizer’s first shipment of COVID-19 vaccinations from Brussels to Chicago O’Hare International Airport on Friday, as reported by CNBC. With the final phase of testing revealing a 95% efficacy rate, the Pfizer-BioNTech drug is the front-runner in combating the global demand for COVID-19 vaccines.
• This comes amid pending approval of Pfizer’s emergency clearance status from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
• The FDA will convene with the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee to potentially give the green light to Pfizer on December 10.
• Initial reservations were expressed by regulators as Pfizer’s vaccine would require a minimum storage temperature of minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit, which means that cargo flights shipping the vaccines would require federal regulatory approval to carry more dry ice, a hazardous material, relative to normal limitations.
• In comparison, Moderna’s vaccines can be stored for up to six months at minus four Fahrenheit temperatures.
• The Federal Aviation Administration announced in a press release that they will continue to work with all parties involved and guide them on implementing the needed regulatory requirements to safely carry large quantities of dry ice in air cargo.
The big picture : CNBC reported that if regulators sign off on the drug as scheduled, first doses of the vaccines could be rolled out within America in just a few weeks. With that said, Pfizer’s production of the vaccine will initially be limited. The company had previously reported that it is projected to make 50 million doses by the end of the year.
• Malaysia is the first Southeast Asian country to place an order with the American company, having signed an agreement to obtain 12.8 million doses last Friday. The deal, however, is contingent on Pfizer’s vaccine gaining approval from the FDA.
• Earlier this week, British prime minister Boris Johnson similarly revealed plans that the UK had ordered enough of the Pfizer vaccine for a third of the population.
•Following keen interest being expressed about vaccine developments across numerous governments, both Pfizer and BioNtech witnessed a surge in stock performance yesterday.
• Pfizer closed on Monday with an increase of 2.9% while its German partner saw a bigger jump of 12.96%.
Moderna also followed suit to apply for emergency use authorisation on Monday, with an FDA hearing set to take place on December 17.
• Novavax, a subsequent American vaccine development company, has revealed that interim results of its third phase of clinical trials will be published in the first quarter of 2021.
• Asian countries like Japan, Hong Kong, and the Philippines are also in talks to receive substantial doses of Pfizer’s vaccines, among other potential suppliers.
• Meanwhile, China and Russia are expected to continue their domestic trials for vaccine development.
• China has also pledged additional vaccines to its neighbouring countries, a move speculated to exert further Chinese influence in Asia.