The Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine will reach hospitals and other sites across the United States by Monday morning, a top official said on Saturday.
As per a report in AFP, the shots will begin leaving the Pfizer factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan on Sunday, stored in boxes containing dry ice that are capable of staying at -70 degrees Celsius (-94 degrees Fahrenheit), the frigid temperature needed to preserve the drug.
General Gus Perna, who is overseeing the massive logistical operation as part of the government’s Operation Warp Speed, said, “I am absolutely 100 percent confident that we are going to distribute safely, this precious commodity, this vaccine, needed to defeat the enemy Covid”.
It comes as the coronavirus is soaring across the country as never before, with fatalities now approaching 300,000 and nearly 16 million cases of infection. Over the past two weeks the US has exceeded 2,000 Covid-related deaths per day several times.
AFP quoted Perna as saying that hundreds of sites, including hospitals and other distribution centers, would receive the vaccines from Monday to Wednesday, which would cover the first wave of about three million people to be vaccinated.
Federal health authorities have recommended that health care workers and nursing home residents be at the front of the line, but the final decisions have been left to states. The FDA has made no definitive ruling regarding whether pregnant women or the immunocompromised should be given the shots, instead punting that call to people to make for themselves in consultation with their doctors, reported AFP.
The vaccine was approved on Saturday by the US Food and Drug Administration. It is expected to touch off a mass-inoculation campaign of unparalleled dimension to end the pandemic. The US became the sixth country to green-light the Pfizer vaccine on Saturday.
Trump announces approval
“FDA APPROVES PFIZER VACCINE FOR EMERGENCY USE!!!” President Donald Trump announced on Saturday on Twitter. He promised Americans the vaccinations would begin in less than 24 hours.
FDA APPROVES PFIZER VACCINE FOR EMERGENCY USE!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2020
According to a Reuters report, US Army General Gustave Perna said on a Saturday news call that the first shipments will begin on Sunday and will be delivered to 145 locations around the country on Monday.
Victory for Pfizer-BioNTech
It was a triumphant moment for the American giant and its German partner BioNTech, who started work on their product, based on experimental mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) technology, just 11 months ago.
The vaccine has been shown in a clinical trial of 44,000 people to be 95 percent effective in preventing Covid-19, and no serious safety concerns have been identified, reported AFP.
But, after two health care workers in Britain who received the injection suffered severe allergic reactions, the FDA has advised people who have known allergies to the vaccine’s ingredients to avoid getting it.
If they receive the first dose and have a severe allergic reaction, they are advised to not take the second dose.
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