The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the first vaccine for the coronavirus, and it will be used for emergencies.

Millions of doses of coronavirus vaccine created by Pfizer and BioNTech, which is 95% effective, will be shipped around the US and vaccinations will begin in a couple of days.

The vaccine got a special authorization by the FDA for emergency use. Despite being green lit, Pfizer would still have to file a separate application for its vaccine to be fully license by the FDA and begin distribution, according to The Guardian.

Before the vaccinations can start, a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC immunization advisory committee must vote to recommend the coronavirus vaccine, and the CDC must accept the recommendation. The meeting with the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is scheduled on December 12.

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In the next few weeks, it is estimated that 20 million people could be vaccinate, which is an important step toward ending the coronavirus pandemic that has killed almost 300,000 people in the country. However, until more are vaccinated, efforts such as wearing masks and keep a safe distance need to continue to prevent it from spreading further.

How Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine works

Pfizer and BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine named BNT162b2, according to Pfizer's press release. It is an mRNA vaccine and it is given as two shot separate shots and is administered 21 days apart. The first dose is to prime the body, and the second dose will be given a few weeks later and it is to boost the response.

The messenger RNA or mRNA used in the vaccine codes for a structure called the increased glycoprotein of the coronavirus. That is the part of the virus that it uses to attach to human cells.

The vaccine prompts the body to produce copies of glycoprotein. It can create an immune response that leads to protection against the coronavirus infection. Such mRNA vaccines are the newest addition to vaccine technology.

The safety and efficacy data on Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine entry was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

FDA's priority

The Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices or ACIP will meet with the CDC and vote on whether to recommend the vaccine, as soon as the CDC accepts the recommendation of the ACIP, the vaccinations will begin.

The ACIP had previously recommended that health care workers, residents of care facilities and senior citizens should be the first to get the vaccine.

The first shipment of the vaccine will be limited, so different states in the country will have to prioritize who should get the vaccine first.

The said groups are considered as high risk, according to Dr. Jose Romero, the chair of the ACIP. Keeping doctors and nurses healthy will be important as the country continues to fight against the coronavirus and it is expected to stretch on for a few more months in 2021.

Dr. Romero said that the first group includes those working in health care institutions and those who perform housekeeping and deliver food. Residents of care facilities such as nursing homes need the protection as they account for 40% of coronavirus deaths in the United States.

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Written by Sieeka Khan

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