The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorised the use of the Pfizer BioNTech mRNA vaccine, BNT162b2, against COVID-19 in individuals 16 years of age or older.
The vaccine is authorized under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) while Pfizer and BioNTech gather additional data and prepare to file a planned Biologics License Application (BLA) with the FDA for a possible full regulatory approval in 2021.
Under Operation Warp Speed, the Department of Defense (DoD) in partnership with agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will manage allocation and distribution of the vaccine in the U.S. This will be prioritised according to the populations identified by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) guidelines.
“Pfizer’s purpose is breakthroughs that change patients’ lives, and in our 171-year history there has never been a more urgent need for a breakthrough than today with hundreds of thousands of people continuing to suffer from COVID-19,” said Albert Bourla, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Pfizer.
“As a US company, today’s news brings great pride and tremendous joy that Pfizer has risen to the challenge to develop a vaccine that has the potential to help bring an end to this devastating pandemic. We have worked tirelessly to make the impossible possible, steadfast in our belief that science will win.”
“We founded BioNTech to develop new technologies and medicines that utilize the full potential of the immune system to fight serious diseases,” said Ugur Sahin, CEO and Co-founder of BioNTech. “Today we are another step closer to our vision. We believe that today’s Emergency Use Authorization, and the subsequent distribution of our vaccine that has demonstrated an efficacy rate of 95% and a favourable safety profile, will help to save lives across the United States and could accelerate a return to normality.”
The FDA based its decision on the totality of scientific evidence shared by the companies, including data from a pivotal Phase III clinical study announced last month and published this week in The New England Journal of Medicine. The Phase III data demonstrated a vaccine efficacy rate of 95% in participants without prior SARS-CoV-2 infection (first primary objective) and also in participants with and without prior SARS-CoV-2 infection (second primary objective), in each case measured from 7 days after the second dose. The Data Monitoring Committee for the study has not reported any serious safety concerns related to the vaccine. Efficacy was consistent across age, gender, race and ethnicity demographics. All trial participants will continue to be monitored to assess long-term protection and safety for an additional two years after their second dose.
Image credit: BioNTech