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Pfizer/BioNTech to seek emergency use approval for coronavirus vaccine

The companies this week announced that a completed study of trials of the product showed it was 95% effective in protecting people from coronavirus infection.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is conducting a COVID-19 vaccine trial in conjunction with BioNTech. Picture: Supplied.

WASHINGTON - Pfizer and its partner BioNTech confirmed they will apply Friday for emergency use authorization for their coronavirus vaccine, becoming the first to do so in the US as the pandemic rages around the world.

The announcement had been expected for several days after the companies said that a completed study of trials of the product showed it was 95% effective in protecting people from infection.

* READ: Pfizer/BioNTech say results show COVID vaccine 95% effective

The announcement also confirms what BioNTech's CEO told AFP Thursday.

"Filing in the US represents a critical milestone in our journey to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine to the world and we now have a more complete picture of both the efficacy and safety profile of our vaccine, giving us confidence in its potential," Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said.

The vaccine has been under evaluation for weeks in the European Union, Australia, Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom, the companies said.

"The companies will be ready to distribute the vaccine candidate within hours after authorisation," their statement said.

* READ: Poorer nations face vaccine wait as West locks down supply

The Food and Drug Administration has not said how long it will take to study the vaccine data, but the government expects to give the green light for the vaccine in the first two weeks of December.

The European Union could also move quickly on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, perhaps as soon as the second half of December, according to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

Hot on the heels of these companies is a vaccine developed by another biotech firm, Moderna, which says its product is also about 95% effective.

The speed with which these vaccines have been developed as the pandemic wreaks havoc around the world has no precedent. Over the past decade, the vaccines authorised in the US have taken an average of eight years to develop.

The US government says it plans to vaccinate more than 20 million people in December, and then another 25-30 million per month.

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