New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Friday he expects to receive 130,000 doses of Pfizer's vaccine by Christmas if the FDA authorizes emergency use for it. The pharmaceutical company says it's filing an application to that end on Friday.
Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said paid and unpaid people serving in healthcare settings who have greater potential for direct or indirect exposure to infection would get first priority as far as the vaccine. There are about 650,000 workers in the state under that umbrella, she said. Long-term care staff and residents are also high priority -- and there about 150,000 of them.
Pfizer's Friday filing with the FDA starts the clock on a process that could bring first shots as early as next month, as Murphy said, and eventually an end to the pandemic -- but not until after a long, hard winter.
The action comes days after Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech announced that its vaccine appears 95 percent effective at preventing mild to severe COVID-19 disease in a large, ongoing study.
The companies said that protection plus a good safety record means the vaccine should qualify for emergency use authorization, something the FDA can grant before the final testing is fully complete. In addition to Friday's FDA submission, they have already started “rolling” applications in Europe and the U.K. and intend to submit similar information soon.
Friday’s filing sets off a chain of events as the FDA and its independent advisers debate if the shots are ready. If so, still another government group will have to decide how the initial limited supplies are rationed out to anxiously awaiting Americans.
Gen. Gustave Perna, who is leading the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine program, said Friday that states would decide, with guidance from the FDA and the CDC, who will first get the vaccine.
With the coronavirus surging around the U.S. and the world, the pressure is on for regulators to make a speedy decision.
Moderna, another vaccine front-runner, has said it expects to file an emergency use authorization application with the FDA for its vaccine in the coming weeks. Should that also be approved, Persichilli said New Jersey could end up with up to 400,000 vaccine doses between that company and Pfizer by late January.