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FDA panel recommends approval of Pfizer virus vaccine

A pharmacist labels syringes in a clean room where doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be handled, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020, at Mount Sinai Queens hospital in New York. The hospital expects to receive doses once a vaccine gets the emergency green light by U.S. regulators. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan via CN)

(CN) — A committee of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted Thursday to recommend Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use nationwide to fight the pandemic that has killed nearly 300,000 Americans since March.  

The FDA could adopt the recommendations and order emergency authorization of the vaccine as early as Thursday night, but it could take up to a week. The first doses would begin shipping immediately after approval.

At the close of an eight-hour meeting to discuss the safety and efficacy of the two-dose vaccine developed by Pfizer and German partner company BioNTech, the advisory panel greenlit the shot based on data showing that it is 95% effective at preventing Covid-19 at least seven days after the second dose. 

The question before the committee boiled down to whether the benefits of the vaccine outweighed its risks for individuals 16 years of age and older. 

Seventeen of the 23 advisers voted to recommend the vaccine. Four voted against and one abstained.