An independent panel of vaccine experts advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has passed along its recommendations regarding who in the U.S. should receive the first available supplies of coronavirus vaccines once they are approved for use. Not surprisingly, the panel -- officially named the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices -- is advising that front-line healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities be at the head of the line to be inoculated.
Panel members voted 13-1 in favor of the recommendations.
All told, there are roughly 21 million healthcare workers in this country, and around 3 million people living in long-term care facilities. The latter group has proven to be especially vulnerable to the coronavirus. Older individuals who contract COVID-19 are far more likely to be killed by the disease, and those who live in such facilities are more likely to be in close proximity to someone who is infected.
While the CDC is not obligated to follow the recommendations of its independent advisory panels, it usually defers to their expertise. The agency has not yet commented on this latest one. However, it has scheduled a coronavirus briefing for 11 a.m. EST Wednesday, at which it will presumably address the recommendation.
No coronavirus vaccine has yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, nor have any been given emergency use authorizations (EUA) by the regulator. However, two candidates -- one developed by Moderna (MRNA -1.82%), the other by Pfizer (PFE 0.89%) in partnership with BioNTech (BNTX -1.45%) -- look as if they are close to earning approval.
Moderna has submitted its request for an EUA to the U.S. healthcare regulator, while Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine just received the green light from the FDA's counterpart in the U.K., the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
None of those three companies has yet issued a statement on the advisory panel's recommendation to the CDC.