Pfizer to ask today for emergency vaccine authorization
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Pfizer and BioNTech say they will ask the FDA Friday for emergency authorization of their coronavirus vaccine, the first set of companies to take this step. What does the process look like from here?
Marketplace’s Jasmine Garsd has the latest on this. The following is an edited transcript of her conversation with “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio.
David Brancaccio: How’s it work? Seeking emergency authorization does not mean we will immediately have a vaccine, right?
Jasmine Garsd: Correct. The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the FDA, has said it will move “as quickly as possible” to approve the vaccines for limited use.
Brancaccio: Emergency authorization is not the same as approval of a drug. Can you explain the difference?
Garsd: Emergency authorization means the FDA facilitates availability of a product, which it thinks may be effective, during a declared state of emergency. I should note — Pfizer says the vaccine is 95% effective and has said once the vaccine is cleared, they’ll be ready to start distributing within hours.
Brancaccio: There has been controversy over emergency authorization of a vaccine, right?
Garsd: Yes, absolutely. There’s been concern over the politics of all this. The current administration has been pushing hard on getting a vaccine as soon as possible, and experts have raised concern over rushing the process. There’s clearly also public concern: According to an October Gallup poll, only 58% of people said they would receive a vaccine.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
What do I need to know about tax season this year?
Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.
How long will it be until the economy is back to normal?
It feels like things are getting better, more and more people getting vaccinated, more businesses opening, but we’re not entirely out of the woods. To illustrate: two recent pieces of news from the Centers for Disease Control. Item 1: The CDC is extending its tenant eviction moratorium to June 30. Item 2: The cruise industry didn’t get what it wanted — restrictions on sailing from U.S. ports will stay in place until November. Very different issues with different stakes, but both point to the fact that the CDC thinks we still have a ways to go before the pandemic is over, according to Dr. Philip Landrigan, who used to work at the CDC and now teaches at Boston College.
How are those COVID relief payments affecting consumers?
Payments started going out within days of President Joe Biden signing the American Rescue Plan, and that’s been a big shot in the arm for consumers, said John Leer at Morning Consult, which polls Americans every day. “Consumer confidence is really on a tear. They are growing more confident at a faster rate than they have following the prior two stimulus packages.” Leer said this time around the checks are bigger and they’re getting out faster. Now, rising confidence is likely to spark more consumer spending. But Lisa Rowan at Forbes Advisor said it’s not clear how much or how fast.
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