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COVID-19

Pfizer to ask today for emergency vaccine authorization

David Brancaccio, Jasmine Garsd, and Alex Schroeder Nov 20, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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An illustration picture shows vials with COVID-19 Vaccine stickers attached and syringes with the logo of pharmaceutical company Pfizer, on Nov. 17, 2020. Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Pfizer to ask today for emergency vaccine authorization

David Brancaccio, Jasmine Garsd, and Alex Schroeder Nov 20, 2020
An illustration picture shows vials with COVID-19 Vaccine stickers attached and syringes with the logo of pharmaceutical company Pfizer, on Nov. 17, 2020. Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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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

Are states ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines?

Claire Hannan, executive director of the nonprofit Association of Immunization Managers, which represents state health officials, said states have been making good progress in their preparations. And we could have several vaccines pretty soon. But states still need more funding, she said. Hannan doesn’t think a lack of additional funding would hold up distribution initially, but it could cause problems down the road. “It’s really worrisome that Congress may not pass funding or that there’s information circulating saying that states don’t need additional funding,” she said.

How is the service industry dealing with the return of coronavirus restrictions?

Without another round of something like the Paycheck Protection Program, which kept a lot of businesses afloat during the pandemic’s early stages, the outlook is bleak for places like restaurants. Some in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, only got one week of indoor dining back before cases rose and restrictions went back into effect. Restaurant owners are revamping their business models in an effort to survive while waiting to see if they’ll be able to get more aid.

How are hospitals handling the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases?

As the pandemic surges and more medical professionals themselves are coming down with COVID, nearly 1 in 5 hospitals in the country report having a critical shortage of staff, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. One of the knock-on effects of staff shortages is that people who have other medical needs are being asked to wait.

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