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Pfizer, BioNTech file for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine

On Friday, Pfizer and development partner BioNTech filed for emergency use authorization from the FDA. Yahoo Finance’s Anjalee Khemlani breaks down the news.

Video Transcript

MYLES UDLAND: Anjalee, certainly encouraging, certainly expected to some extent, after what we heard from the companies recently, and this coming as we are likely set to hit another daily record in the number of COVID cases.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: That's right, Myles. Unfortunately with the ongoing pandemic, this is even more crucial than ever. And of course, the companies do know that. Pfizer and BioNTech first out the door with an emergency use authorization filing this morning, just two days after they told us that their vaccine proved 95% efficacious.

And of course, I'm following Dr. Fauci's advice and making sure that I say efficacious instead of effective, because as we know, while the results are still due, by the way, from the companies-- we do not have a look at that data just yet-- the efficacious number, efficacy number, is a little bit different from what will actually be effective out in the real world. And that is yet another thing to watch in the future.

Of course, Pfizer and BioNTech, right now, their vaccine is the one that requires that ultra-cold chain supply, which Operation Warp Speed has been addressing and paying attention to, with the distribution of these ultra-storage freezers, ultra-cold storage freezers throughout the country. So as it stands right now, states are looking to possibly be ready to accept a vaccine starting mid-December.

And we know that the Vaccine Advisory Committee is set to meet next month, so we will see how it all plays out. So we've heard Operation Warp Speed say that within 24 hours of an approval, or authorization, sorry, they will be ready to ship those vaccines out, so all of this happening within the next few weeks and all eyes on that right now. Myles.

MYLES UDLAND: And this, of course, Anjalee, we're trying to square the two realities of the pandemic right now, because we have all this positive news on the vaccine front. It does appear that vaccines will be in the arms of Americans by the end of 2020. But at the same time, we see more states increasing their restrictions as a very nervous holiday period quickly approaches.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: That's correct. We're seeing additional states look at restrictions. We know California is looking at more curfew. And so this is really the strategy that has unfortunately been taking place in lieu of a full national strategy. So each state or each municipality, in some cases, is taking on either mass mandates, or curfews, or stricter restrictions.

We know New York City just sent schools into full remote with the anticipation that we're going to hear something about further with indoor dining, with gyms. We know that also in Illinois there's been a hint about that happening, with Chicago taking the lead in that.

So around the country, this has been sort of the crucial center for any of the strategies to unfold. We have concerning states like South Dakota and Wyoming marking very high positivity rates, but no really strict measures coming down from there and some criticism from health experts on that.

BRIAN SOZZI: Anjalee, before we came to air, you made, really, a great point. Essentially, we have two small biotech companies really in a race to save the world.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: That's correct. As it stands right now, while Pfizer is getting the name credit and mention as a longstanding vaccine company, looking at the two actual companies that came up with the technology, Moderna, as well as BioNTech, are the two small biotechs that started this.

And so when we look at what this has done, really, there's a lot of conversation happening right now about number one, two small biotechs saving the world, two, the validation of the platform that has never come to market before. mRNA has never been on the market, but it's been in production for the last several years, I think a decade now.

And so looking at it from that perspective, it's very interesting that in a compressed timeline the traditional sort of companies that you would expect, especially vaccine makers, are sort of slower in the race than these smaller companies.