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Pfizer CEO says coronavirus vaccine could be ready by late November

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla announced the company’s Covid-19 vaccine could be available by late November. Yahoo Finance’s Anjalee Khemlani weighs in.

Video Transcript


JULIE HYMAN: Well, as Adam just mentioned, shares of Pfizer, as well as its German partner, BioNTech, are trading higher today. That's after Pfizer said its vaccine won't be ready in time for the election, but it might not be too long afterwards that it applies for approval. Anjalee Khemlani is here with the latest on where it is in the process. Anjalee.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Thanks, Julie. So what we're looking at is Pfizer basically agreeing to what is more broadly being accepted by the scientific community and by the pharma industry when it comes to the guidelines for the coronavirus vaccine. We know that the FDA has been pushing and has pushed for a two-month observation period, up from one, which is what it was before. And those details are up for discussion on October 22 in an advisory council meeting.

So we're waiting to hear more about that. But it seems like more broadly, this has been accepted. Pfizer initially saying and continuing to commit to that timeline of having initial data ready by the end of this month. But for the first time, saying and agreeing out loud to wait to apply for the EUA, that Emergency Use Authorization, by the third week of November, which is when it would complete that up that observational window. So definitely waiting to see more on that.

Meanwhile, we know Moderna has already said repeatedly that Thanksgiving is when they would have their initial data. So really puts it a little bit behind the game there. And when we're talking about just the coronavirus pandemic right now, continues to be a problem as we're entering the second wave. And while all hopes are on the vaccine and the fact that we might get at least one approval or authorization, sorry, by the end of the year, it still doesn't help what will happen in the coming months when it comes to hospitalizations and testing. And so we're waiting to hear more about that.

But what's happening right now is CMS, that's the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which sets the reimbursement payments for a lot of services for Medicare, recently came out with new guidance on lab testing. We know that when hot spots were battling shortages of tests, we saw that there was a lot of delays and turnaround time. And health experts criticizing, saying that the test results are not useful if they're more than a week or delayed in any way.

So CMS really clamping down, saying that they're going to cut payments to these clinical labs that process them possibly to $75, down from $100, if they delay more than two days. That's something that's of concern now as we're getting into the second wave and anticipating really another round of possible shortages, even though testing capacity has in fact, increased. But if the volume gets overwhelming, it's something that is of concern right now.

JULIE HYMAN: Anjalee, that's really interesting. We'll see if that kind of penalization actually works to speed up the testing. Quick question on Emergency Use Authorization. Even after Pfizer applies, then how long does the government typically take to consider one of those requests?

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: As quickly as a few weeks to as much as a few months. That is what FDA officials have previously said on record. The EUA takes a little less data and information to process and analyze, so that's where the quicker timeline sort of comes into play. But when we're talking about looking at the full approval, that is what will take more months, and more data is necessary for that.

JULIE HYMAN: Anjalee Khemlani, thank you so much.