An advisory panel recommended to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Thursday that it grant an emergency use authorization for Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine.  

The 17-4 vote by the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee followed an all-day meeting. Only one person abstained as the body recommended the vaccine receive the emergency green light for those 16 years and older.

The question before the panel was: “Based on the totality of scientific evidence available, do the benefits of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine outweigh its risks for use in individuals 16 years of age and older?”

The experts concluded that the groundbreaking vaccine appears safe and effective for those in the group. The FDA is expected to issue its decision within days.

The US continues to be the country hardest-hit by the coronavirus pandemic and is facing a growing surge fueled by the winter holidays and more people opting to socialize indoors as temperatures drop. In all, over 15.5 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the US as well as over 291,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Numbers of COVID-19 daily deaths and cases have been hitting grim records in recent weeks. Over 221,000 cases were confirmed Wednesday, as well as 3,124 deaths, an all-time high.

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