UPDATED: The FDA has granted emergency authorization for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine Friday, after a government panel recommended Thursday that it receive approval.
The Washington Post reported that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows had told FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn to submit his resignation if the agency did not give its authorization by the end of Friday.
The advisory panel found that Pfizer’s shot appears to be safe and effective against COVID-19 in people 16 and older.
The approval paves the way for Americans to begin getting the vaccine, which has a 95% effectiveness rate, within the next few days. About 2.9 million doses are due to be shipped around the United States in the next week, with nursing home residents and health care workers among the first to get the shot.
The vaccine, developed by American drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, was authorized in Britain, the first country in the world to give the go-ahead to the extensively tested coronavirus vaccine. Britain starting dispensing shots on Tuesday.
BioNTech, the company that owns the vaccine, said it has signed deals to supply 570 million doses worldwide in 2021, with options to deliver 600 million more, according to Associated Press. It hopes to provide at least 1.3 billion in 2021.
The news of a potential vaccine provides hope for struggling movie theater chains across the country. When Pfizer’s hopeful early test results were announced last month, AMC Theatre, Cineworld and Cinemark’s stocks immediately rose 51.4%, 40.25% and 45.17%, respectively, on Nov. 9.
For almost a year, movie theaters have been operating at losses that are growing unsustainable. Not only are wary moviegoers not returning for the experience, but cinemas are also operating at limited capacity due to social distancing measures. They also took on additional expenses to keep their venues free from COVID-19, including extra cleaning, updated HVAC systems and training staff members to adhere to new protocols.
The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) predicted that up to 70% of small to mid-sized theaters are facing bankruptcy by early 2021 without additional federal assistance. NATO CEO John Fithian told Variety in November, “If the vaccine news is on track, that’s very exciting and is a very bright light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s a long tunnel and many of our companies are barely breathing air right now in terms of their liquidity.”