A top advisory board whose lead the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) traditionally follows backed the Pfizer BioNTech coronavirus vaccine on Thursday, signaling that FDA emergency-use authorization was imminent.
The panel reviewed the findings of FDA careers scientists, who earlier this week gave the vaccine candidate—which has been found to be about 95 percent effective and to have minimal side effects—their own thumbs up.
The body that met Thursday, called the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, voted 17-4 to back emergency-use authorization. While not the same as full FDA approval, the emergency-use authorization would allow the vaccine to roll out across the country as soon as this weekend or next week. The CDC has suggested states prioritize frontline workers and nursing-home residents, though states would have some discretion in who gets the vaccine first.