Despite the fact that hundreds of millions of Pfizer-manufactured mRNA vaccines have been injected into people’s arms, until today the shot’s widespread consumption has been only under an “Emergency Use Authorization.” Today the US Food and Drug Administration has decided it can throw its full weight of approval behind the vaccine, opening the way for organizations, governments, and other large entities to mandate vaccination for staff and others.
It is expected that the certification, which has been in process since the vaccine entered the world stage in December 2020, will increase confidence in the treatment, helping overcome the last traces of vaccine hesitation which has led in part to the current surge in COVID-19 around the world, due to the spread of the Delta variant.
The US defense establishment announced that it will in all likelihood make vaccination mandatory for all members of the armed services. Universities have also said that they will require students and staff to be vaccinated if they want to attend in-person learning, among them the University of Minnesota and major public universities in Louisiana.
The FDA said it was able to upgrade the approval rating based on the large amount of hard evidence proving that serious side-effects are highly unusual, and the benefit of the vaccine vastly outweigh any risk presented by its administration.
President Joe Biden said, addressing those who have been wary of the vaccine because it was only being given under the emergency use authorization, that now that the vaccine has received the “gold standard” approval, “the moment you’ve been waiting for is here!”
Despite Trump’s declared dislike for the latest stimulus package passed by the US Congress, he signed anyway, to the rejoicing of legislators, citizens, and the stock market.
The newest bill authorizes $900 billion in aid to deal with the devastating effects to individuals, families, and the economy of the coronavirus pandemic. Included in the deal is a $600 check for every adult, expanded unemployment benefits, and more money for the Paycheck Protection Program which helps small businesses to retain their employees and stay afloat.
President Trump originally threatened to not sign the bill, saying that the payment should be $2,000 and not $600. He relented and the process of getting the desperately needed money out to the population hard hit by the pandemic is underway.
The stock market reacted positively: The S&P rose by 0.87%; the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 0.68% to 30,403.97; and the NASDAQ composite also increased 0.74% to 12,899.42.
In other, related news, the latest COVID-19 vaccine, from AstraZeneca, is about to get emergency use authorization in the UK, with the hope that the vaccine will begin deployment the first week in January 2021.
The company said that, like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which are already circulating in many countries, the AstraZeneca vaccine has an efficacy rate of 95%.
China is the latest country to add its signature to a global effort to make sure that when a coronavirus vaccine is finally developed and ready for distribution, it will be given to the neediest people around the world.
Know as the COVAX initiative, it is sponsored by the World Health Organization and has signed up 157 countries. The WHO hopes the program will ensure that 2 billion doses of this life-saving vaccine will be made available to those most in need, no matter where they live, by the end of 2021.
“We have solemnly pledged to make vaccines developed and deployed by China a global public good, which will be provided to developing countries as a priority,” Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry, wrote on Twitter.
This is an about-face for China, which originally bowed out from joining COVAX. China is currently developing four vaccines that are in clinical trials. One of them, according to Wu Guizhen, chief biosafety expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, should be ready to be used on the general population sometime in November. President of China, Xi Jinping promised back in May that he would make any Chinese vaccine available for “the global good.” At that time Xi also pledged $2 billion to WHO, making China the organization’s largest donor.
In early September, the United States announced its decision to stay away from the COVAX initiative, stating that:
“We will not be constrained by multilateral organizations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organization and China,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said at the time.