The drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech said they plan to apply Friday to the Food and Drug Administration for an emergency use authorization for their Covid-19 vaccine, a watershed moment in the effort to curb the global pandemic.
It is unclear how long the FDA will take to review the application, though the agency is expected to move swiftly. Agency officials have pledged to seek advice from an expert panel of outside experts, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee or VRBPAC, before ruling on the application. VRBPAC members have been asked to hold three days in December as potential meeting dates.
It is widely expected that the FDA will then issue an emergency use authorization for the two-dose vaccine, which has been shown to be highly effective in preventing Covid infections. Officials have said they hope to begin vaccination of health workers — who will be at the front of the line for the limited first doses — in some locations within days of the authorization.
The submission is based on a vaccine efficacy rate of 95% (p<0.0001) demonstrated in the companies’ Phase 3 clinical study in participants without prior SARS-CoV-2 infection (first primary objective) and also in participants with and without prior SARS-CoV-2 infection (second primary objective), in each case measured from 7 days after the second dose.
The first primary objective analysis was based on 170 confirmed cases of COVID-19. This submission also is supported by solicited safety data from a randomized subset of approximately 8,000 participants ≥18 years of age and unsolicited safety data from approximately 38,000 trial participants who have been followed for a median of two months following the second dose of the vaccine candidate.
The submission also includes solicited safety data on approximately 100 children 12-15 years of age. Approximately 42% of global participants and 30% of U.S. participants in the Phase 3 study have racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds, and 41% of global and 45% of U.S. participants are 56-85 years of age. To date, the Data Monitoring Committee (DMC) for the study has not reported any serious safety concerns related to the vaccine.
“Our work to deliver a safe and effective vaccine has never been more urgent, as we continue to see an alarming rise in the number of cases of COVID-19 globally. Filing in the U.S. represents a critical milestone in our journey to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine to the world and we now have a more complete picture of both the efficacy and safety profile of our vaccine, giving us confidence in its potential,” said Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and CEO.
“We look forward to the upcoming Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee discussion and continue to work closely with the FDA and regulatory authorities worldwide to secure authorization of our vaccine candidate as quickly as possible.”
“Filing for Emergency Use Authorization in the U.S. is a critical step in making our vaccine candidate available to the global population as quickly as possible,” said Ugur Sahin, M.D., CEO and Co-founder of BioNTech.
“We intend to continue to work with regulatory agencies worldwide to enable the rapid distribution of our vaccine globally. As a company located in Germany in the heart of Europe, our interactions with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) are of particular importance to us and we have continuously provided data to them as part of our rolling review process.”