Health and Science

HHS Secretary Azar says Pfizer is expected to file FDA application for coronavirus vaccine Friday with Moderna soon to follow

Vice President Mike Pence listens to US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speak during a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing in the James S. Brady Briefing Room of the White House on November 19, 2020.
Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Thursday that Pfizer is expected to file an application to the FDA for emergency use of its coronavirus vaccine on Friday, with Moderna soon to follow.

"Pfizer's partner, BioNTech, has announced that tomorrow they intend to file for emergency use authorization at the FDA," Azar said during the White House coronavirus task force's first public meeting in months. "We would expect Moderna filing soon also."

On Wednesday, Pfizer said it expected to submit an application to the FDA "within days' after a final data analysis found its coronavirus vaccine was highly effective and appeared to be safe. The news came two days after Moderna said preliminary phase three trial data showed its vaccine was 94.5%. Both vaccines use messenger RNA, or mRNA, technology. It's a new approach to vaccines that uses genetic material to provoke an immune response.

A safe and effective vaccine is seen by investors and policymakers as a solution to get the global economy back on track after the pandemic wreaked havoc on nearly every country. The coronavirus continues to rapidly spread across the United States, infecting more than 11.53 million Americans and killing at least 250,548, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The FDA will meet to discuss vaccines on Dec. 8-10, key steps ahead of authorization
The FDA will meet to discuss vaccines on Dec. 8-10, key steps ahead of authorization

At the same meeting, Vice President Mike Pence said the U.S. could "literally be a few short weeks away from a vaccine being available to the most vulnerable." While it's true some Americans could get the first doses of the vaccine in about a month, the vaccine will initially be very limited.

Azar told CNBC on Monday that there will be roughly 40 million doses of vaccine available by the end of this year between the two companies, enough to inoculate about 20 million people. The U.S. also has supply agreements for Covid-19 vaccines from Johnson & JohnsonSanofi and GlaxoSmithKlineNovavax and AstraZeneca.