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The US green-lighted the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine late Friday, paving the way for its imminent rollout across the country, with President Donald Trump promising the first immunizations would take place “in less than 24 hours.”
“I am authorizing the emergency use of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID?19 Vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19,” Denise Hinton, the Food and Drug Administration’s chief scientist wrote in a letter to a Pfizer executive.
President Donald Trump immediately released a video on Twitter, where he hailed the development.
“The first vaccine will be administered in less than 24 hours,” Trump said in a televised address released on Twitter.
“Through our partnership with FedEx and UPS, we have already begun shipping the vaccine to every state and zip code in the country,” he said, adding that governors would decide who would receive the shots first in their states.
The US is now the sixth country to approve the two-dose regimen, after Britain, Bahrain, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Mexico.
It comes as infections in the world’s worst-hit country soar as never before, with the grim milestone of 300,000 confirmed deaths fast approaching.
The move capped a day of drama after it was widely reported in the US media that the White House had threatened to fire the FDA chief Stephen Hahn if he did not issue the EUA Friday.
Hahn disputed the reporting but nonetheless gave the order, which was previously expected either over the weekend or early next week.
The US will now undertake a complex logistical operation to ship millions of doses out to hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and long-term care facilities across the country.