Pfizer seeks full FDA approval, the US supports waiving IP protections for vaccines, and people in India struggle to get the aid they need. Here’s what you should know:
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Pfizer and BioNTech ask the FDA for full approval of its shot for adults, and emergency use for teens
This morning, Pfizer and BioNTech asked the FDA for full approval of their Covid-19 vaccine for Americans 16 and up. The agency granted the shot emergency use authorization in December after it had two months of safety and efficacy data. Full approval requires six months of data. The FDA is expected to take several weeks to review the application. While the statistics surrounding this and the other vaccines can create confusion, ultimately the numbers tell one story: These shots are very effective, and they will pave the way out of this pandemic.
Separately, the FDA is preparing to authorize Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine for use in teens ages 12 to 15 in the coming days, and the drugmaker said it will apply for emergency authorization for use in children ages 2 to 11 in September.
The Biden administration supports waiving IP protections for Covid-19 vaccines
On Wednesday, the Biden administration put out a statement saying it would support waiving intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines in order to make it easier for countries struggling with the pandemic and vaccine rollout to produce shots created by other drugmakers. So far this proposal has been met with mixed reactions, including praise from the WHO and objections from the pharmaceutical industry. The EU has also indicated that it might not support the proposal. What’s more, experts have pointed out that it could be a long time before this becomes policy, if it ever makes it that far.
In the meantime, other attempts at vaccine diplomacy are ongoing. Moderna and Sweden donated shots to Covax earlier this week. And the WHO has just granted emergency use approval to a vaccine from Chinese drugmaker Sinopharm, allowing the shot to be included in the Covax initiative as well.
Emergency supplies sent to India are delayed as the country continues to shatter records
India broke global records yet again on Friday, reporting 414,188 new cases in the last 24 hours. Countries around the world have stepped up to help the nation amid its massive surge, with around 300 tons of supplies arriving at Delhi International Airport alone by last Sunday. But upon arrival, much of this aid was allegedly stalled at the airport, and some state officials say it’s unclear when and how their regions will be receiving much-needed supplies.
While India’s cities have been hit hard, inadequate public health care in rural areas, where nearly 70 percent of the population live, also puts much of the country at risk. Without the necessary support from the government, many in India are turning to Twitter to seek help, amplify the needs of others, and provide support where possible.
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How will we prevent the next pandemic?
Covid-19 is far from over, but this question is on the minds of many. The good news is that plans are already in the works to make sure that the world will be better equipped to track and curtail the spread of other novel diseases in the future. At the Rockefeller Foundation, a new pandemic prevention institute will use national repositions of genomic and social data to pick up on new global patterns. Rick Bright, the former director of the US government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, will oversee the effort. And next month, Cambridge University will give out its first Trinity Challenge awards to projects that use data to combat public health crises. These and other initiatives will use tools and data we already have to make prevention easier in the future.