WASHINGTON – Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine faces one final hurdle as it races to become the first shot greenlighted in the U.S.: a panel of experts who will scrutinize the company’s data for any red flags.
Thursday’s meeting of the Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory panel is likely the last step before a U.S. decision to begin shipping millions of doses of the shot, which has shown strong protection against the coronavirus.
The FDA panel functions like a science court that will pick apart the data and debate — in public and live-streamed — whether the shot is safe and effective enough to be cleared for emergency use. The non-government experts specialize in vaccine development, infectious diseases and medical statistics. The FDA is expected to follow the committee’s advice, although it is not required to do so.