July 27, 2021


Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

COVID-19 vaccine clears key hurdle in California

The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech cleared another hurdle in California on Sunday when a working group of scientists and experts endorsed its safety.

The group, representing the states of California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, reviewed the vaccine separately from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which had issued emergency-use authorization on Friday. The group made its recommendation to the governors of the four states Sunday morning, officials said in a news release.

The move paved the way for vaccines to be distributed across the state. Officials expect the first shipments to arrive as soon as Monday, with more to follow later this month and in January.

“With shipments of the vaccine soon on their way to California,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement, “we are working hand-in-hand with local public health officials to get the vaccine out to the first phase of recipients.”

California’s first allocation of about 327,000 doses of vaccine is largely being sent to acute-care hospitals to be administered to healthcare workers, although some counties have said they will also send a portion to skilled nursing facilities as well.

Vaccines aren’t expected to be available to everyone who wants one until possibly the spring.

News of the group’s recommendation came as conditions continued to deteriorate at California’s hospitals. There were 13,047 COVID-19 patients as of Saturday, according to data released by the state on Sunday. That’s a nearly sixfold increase from two months ago, when there were 2,226 patients.

As trucks carrying the vaccine departed Pfizer’s manufacturing plant in Kalamazoo, Mich., on Sunday, advocates sought to dispel skepticism about a drug that could save lives.

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said the level of scrutiny to which the vaccine had been subjected was unprecedented and that the data detailing its safety and efficacy were publicly available.

“This is a very powerful outcome of this incredibly intense yearlong experience to develop this,” Collins said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And I think all reasonable people, if they had the chance to sort of put the noise aside and disregard all those terrible conspiracy theories, would look at this and say, ‘I want this for my family, I want it for myself.’ ”

Collins acknowledged that the sense the vaccine development was rushed, plus the “terrible polarization” in the country, created a sense of skepticism. But, she said, it was unfounded.

Collins also cautioned that just because a vaccine is being rolled out, other steps in health safety should not be discarded.

“Masks are still going to be part of our life,” he said. “We need to recognize that and not step away or start to drop our guard.”

Jay Inslee, the Democratic governor of Washington, said the review by the four states should help assure residents of the region.

“It was crucial that the Western states had their own independent review of the vaccine,” Inslee said in a statement, “so we can have additional confidence on its safety and efficacy before we start administering to the people of our states.”