(WPRI) — The United States could soon have its first fully federally approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19.
According to a report by The New York Times, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is accelerating its timetable to come to a decision on approving Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine.
Last month, Pfizer announced the FDA granted priority review for its vaccine, with the agency aiming to make a decision no later than January 2022.
The Times reported the FDA’s decision could now be coming by or before Labor Day, with the agency saying in a statement to the Times its leaders recognized an approval might inspire more confidence in the vaccine, and it had “taken an all-hands-on-deck approach” to complete that process.
All three COVID-19 vaccines have what’s called Emergency Use Authorization, and recent polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation found if the FDA gave full approval to one of them, about 30% of unvaccinated adults said they’d be more likely to get inoculated.
Addressing the nation on Tuesday, President Joe Biden said he was optimistic about a rise in vaccinations in the last two weeks, with the U.S. seeing a 55% increase in the average number of new people getting vaccinated every day, amid the highly contagious Delta variant.
“Importantly, over the past two weeks, the eight states with highest current case rates have seen a doubling of people who are newly vaccinated each day. The message is getting through apparently,” Biden said.
Gov. Dan McKee says the ongoing demand for vaccines is good news as the delta variant continues to contribute to a surge in cases across the country. So far, state health data shows about 80% of Rhode Island adults have received at least one dose.
However, McKee says there are around 250,000 Rhode Islanders 12 years and older who are not vaccinated yet.
While Pfizer’s approval could be coming any week now, the country has two other vaccines with emergency use authorization hoping to get the final mark of approval by federal regulators.
Moderna filed for final approval of its COVID-19 vaccine on June 1, though the company is still submitting data and has not said when it will finish.
Johnson & Johnson has not yet applied for final approval of its single-dose shot, but the company says it plans to do so “later in 2021.”