With talk of a Covid-19 vaccine candidate heating up, you might have heard the term emergency use authorization — or EUA — all over the news lately. But what is it exactly, and how does it apply to vaccines?
Emergency use authorization is what its name suggests: a medical product that gets special authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration to be used during an emergency. Sometimes it's a product that has already been FDA-approved, but for another condition, and sometimes it's a new product that hasn't yet received the agency's green light.
There is a lot of ongoing concern and debate about whether any vaccine candidate should be granted an EUA — or outright approval — without first completing phase 3 clinical trials.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the FDA has granted EUAs many times to a wide range of medical products, such as ventilators; personal protective equipment, including masks; molecular and antigen tests to diagnose Covid-19, and serologic tests to look for antibodies; and even treatments, such as remdesivir and convalescent plasma.