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Panel Gives Its OK

An advisory panel to the US Food and Drug Administration voted 17 to 4 in favor of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, the Wall Street Journal reports. It adds that the vote sets the stage for the FDA to grant an Emergency Use Authorization.

Panel members largely said the benefits of a vaccine outweighed any risks, according to the Journal. "When you have 2,000 to 3,000 people a day — a day — dying of coronavirus, to me this was a clear choice," panel member Ofer Levy from the Precision Vaccines Program at Boston Children's Hospital tells it.

The FDA could grant an EUA as early as Friday or over the weekend, the Journal says. The Washington Post adds that the FDA has said it "will rapidly work toward" authorizing the vaccine. In a statement, the FDA further says it has notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Operation Warp Speed, "so they can execute their plans for timely vaccine distribution."

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been given a regulatory greenlight by the UK, Canada, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia, and the UK began inoculations earlier this week.

The Scan

Should've Been Spotted Sooner

Scientists tell the Guardian that SARS-CoV-2 testing issues at a UK lab should have been noticed earlier.

For Martian Fuel

Researchers have outlined a plan to produce rocket fuel on Mars that uses a combination of sunlight, carbon dioxide, frozen water, cyanobacteria, and engineered E. coli, according to Gizmodo.

To Boost Rapid Testing

The Washington Post writes that new US programs aim to boost the availability of rapid at-home SARS-CoV-2 tests.

PNAS Papers on Strawberry Evolution, Cell Cycle Regulators, False-Positive Triplex Gene Editing

In PNAS this week: strawberry pan-genome, cell cycle-related roles for MDM2 and MDMX, and more.