Tue. Sep 21st, 2021
(Photo courtesy: AFP)

A US government advisory panel convened on Thursday to decide whether to endorse mass use of Pfizer’s vaccine for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) to help conquer the virus outbreak.

The meeting of outside advisers to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) represented the next-to-last hurdle before the expected start of the biggest vaccination campaign in US history. Depending on how fast the FDA signs off on the panel’s recommendation, shots could begin within days.

The FDA panel functions like a science court. During the scheduled daylong session, it was expected to debate and pick apart the data — in public and live-streamed — on whether the vaccine is safe and effective enough to be cleared for emergency use.

“The American public demands and deserves a rigorous, comprehensive and independent review of the data,” said FDA’s Dr. Doran Fink, who described agency scientists working nights, weekends and over Thanksgiving to get that done.

With unprecedented interest in the normally obscure panel, the FDA broadcast the meeting via Youtube, and thousands logged on to follow the discussion.The FDA is not required to follow the committee’s advice but is widely expected to do so. Once that happens, the US will begin shipping millions of doses of the shot. SOVEREIGNPH

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