The latest on the Covid-19 pandemic after FDA approves first vaccine

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 11:12 PM ET, Tue August 24, 2021
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10:20 a.m. ET, August 24, 2021

Top health officials anticipate vaccine will be available for kids under 12 by end of the year 

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Brandon Rivera, a Los Angeles County emergency medical technician, gives a second does of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to a teenager at a pop up vaccine clinic in Los Angeles on August 23.
Brandon Rivera, a Los Angeles County emergency medical technician, gives a second does of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to a teenager at a pop up vaccine clinic in Los Angeles on August 23. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said it’s possible that the process for authorizing a Covid-19 vaccine for younger children could be completed by the end of the calendar year.   

The US Food and Drug Administration will work “incredibly hard” to review the data on children as soon as they have it from the companies, he told CNN on Tuesday.

“I think it’s possible that we might see that process complete by the end of the calendar year, which would be wonderful for kids like mine and many kids out there who can’t get vaccinated,” Murthy said. 

“Until then, Brianna, there is something really important we can do to protect our children,” he said. “And that’s to make sure that the people around them are vaccinated.”

Also on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, both suggested that vaccines for younger children could come by the end of this year. 

On NBC’s Today Show, Fauci said “I think there’s a reasonable chance that that will be the case,” when asked about the likelihood that under 12s could get the vaccine before the Christmas holidays.  

Pfizer and Moderna are working with the NIH clinical trials group and to get data on the safety, the correct dose and the immunogenicity of their vaccines. This data will be given to the FDA ultimately for them to review.

“I hope all of that process will take place expeditiously,” he said. “And that we will have it on the timetable that you just mentioned, hopefully, by the mid late fall and early winter.” 

On ABC’s Good Morning America, Collins said that he thinks realistically, approval for vaccines for people under the age of 12 will come late this year.  

“Pfizer has not submitted their data to the FDA on five to 11-year-olds, that’s expected maybe by late September,” he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. “Keep in mind, kids are not just scaled down adults, they have different immune systems and metabolism, you really have to do the careful trials to make sure you got the dose right and there aren’t any surprises."

9:42 a.m. ET, August 24, 2021

FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine is a milestone in US vaccination efforts, Surgeon General says 

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Dr. Vivek Murthy, US Surgeon General, told CNN’s on Tuesday that the US Food and Drug Administration approval of the Pfizer vaccine is a milestone in US vaccination efforts. 

“I do think that the approval the FDA announced yesterday for the Pfizer vaccine is a milestone in our vaccination efforts and it reaffirms what we have been seeing for months,” Murthy said. “Which is that the vaccines are highly effective, they’ve a very strong safety profile and they’re what we need to get through this pandemic.”  

Murthy said that the FDA is assessing Moderna’s application for full approval, and anticipating that Johnson & Johnson will submit their application in the near future. 

“Despite the news yesterday, there are two things that don’t change,” Murthy said. “One is that if you are unvaccinated, getting vaccinated now with any of the three vaccines is still your fastest path to protection against, particularly against hospitalization and death from the virus.”

The other thing that doesn’t change, he said, “is the plan that we announced last week, which is in the week of September 20, pending the review of the FDA and the CDC advisory committee, we plan to start booster shots, third shots, for those who received the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.” 

9:01 a.m. ET, August 24, 2021

The FDA approved the first Covid-19 vaccine yesterday — and new mandates are already rolling out

From CNN's AJ Willingham

A healthcare worker fills a syringe with Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at a community vaccination event in Los Angeles on August 11.
A healthcare worker fills a syringe with Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at a community vaccination event in Los Angeles on August 11. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

The FDA has granted full approval to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for people 16 and older, paving the way for more vaccine mandates and hopefully encouraging more hesitant people to get the shot.

New mandates are already rolling out for teachers in New York City and state employees in New Jersey. The US military also will now require all service members to be vaccinated.

The daily pace of vaccinations in the US has been over 400,000 every day through August, and Dr. Anthony Fauci says if most eligible people get vaccinated, the US could have control of Covid-19 by this coming spring in 2022.

But for now, case rates are still soaring, with about 147,000 new cases a day in the US. In Kentucky, the National Guard has been called in to help overwhelmed hospitals, much to the relief of desperate health care workers.