The Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine Friday night, authorizing the immunization for emergency use in the United States.
The nation’s long-awaited first COVID-19 vaccine could help put an end to the outbreak that’s killed nearly 300,000 Americans. Shots for health workers and nursing home residents are expected to begin in the coming days.
The U.S. becomes the sixth country — along with Bahrain, Canada, Great Britain, Mexico and Saudi Arabia — to clear the vaccine.
Although the immunization is not yet approved for widespread distribution, the Emergency Use Authorization allows medical professionals to administer it under certain circumstances. The first shipment will be nearly three million doses, according to the New York Times.
Initially, the historic announcement was set for Saturday, but the Washington Post reported that White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn to submit his resignation if the agency did not grant the emergency approval by the end of Friday. Earlier in the day, President Donald Trump urged Hahn to “Get the dam vaccines out NOW” and “Stop playing games and start saving lives!!”
Regardless, the news marks a major milestone in the war against what many deem a global plague.
As of Friday evening, nearly 16 million Americans — and 70 million people around the world — have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tracker.