The US Food and Drug Administration granted an Emergency Use Authorization for Pfizer and BioNTech's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine on Friday, as the New York Times reports.
"To get there has required a host of innovations. … Any one of those would have been cause for considerable amazement," Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, tells the Washington Post. "But when you put them together, it's a path so revolutionary it would be hard to imagine somebody contemplating it five years ago."
The companies announced last month that their late-stage clinical trial indicated their mRNA-based SARS-CoV-2 vaccine had an efficacy of 95 percent.
The regulatory greenlight came a day after an FDA advisory panel voted in favor of authorizing the vaccine, though the Times notes that the timing of the FDA's announcement may have been pushed slightly ahead. The Post reported on Friday that Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, told FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn to resign if the vaccine was not authorized that day.
The authorization set in motion the delivery of vaccine doses throughout the US, NPR adds, noting that the government expects 2.9 million doses to be delivered in this initial shipment. The Times reports that the first vaccine doses have begun to arrive at hospitals and the first US vaccinations have already been given.
The UK began its mass inoculation campaign last week, following its earlier authorization of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.