The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first COVID-19 vaccine Monday for the prevention of the virus in individuals 16 years old and up.
The vaccine has been known as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, and will now be marketed as Comirnaty, according to a press release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization, including for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.
“The FDA’s approval of this vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. While this and other vaccines have met the FDA’s rigorous, scientific standards for emergency use authorization, as the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. “While millions of people have already safely received COVID-19 vaccines, we recognize that for some, the FDA approval of a vaccine may now instill additional confidence to get vaccinated. Today’s milestone puts us one step closer to altering the course of this pandemic in the U.S.”
According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, 2,417,965 people have been fully vaccinated in the state with either the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccinations.
In Lafayette County, 50 percent of the county’s population has received at least one dose and 44 percent are fully vaccinated.
Since March 2020, there have been 7,243 cases of COVID-19 in Lafayette County and 129 deaths. Since Friday, there have been 52 new cases reported in the county.
At Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi, as of Monday, there are 43 people in the hospital with COVID-19 and 14 people in ICU.
Since Dec. 11, 2020, the Pfizer vaccine has been available under EUA in individuals 16 years of age and older, and the authorization was expanded to include those 12 through 15 years of age on May 10, 2021.
Comirnaty contains messenger RNA (mRNA), a kind of genetic material. The mRNA is used by the body to make a mimic of one of the proteins in the virus that causes COVID-19. The result of a person receiving this vaccine is that their immune system will ultimately react defensively to the virus that causes COVID-19. The mRNA in Comirnaty is only present in the body for a short time and is not incorporated into – nor does it alter – an individual’s genetic material.
Comirnaty has the same formulation as the EUA vaccine and is administered as a series of two doses, three weeks apart.
“Our scientific and medical experts conducted an incredibly thorough and thoughtful evaluation of this vaccine. We evaluated scientific data and information included in hundreds of thousands of pages, conducted our own analyses of Comirnaty’s safety and effectiveness, and performed a detailed assessment of the manufacturing processes, including inspections of the manufacturing facilities,” said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
“We have not lost sight that the COVID-19 public health crisis continues in the U.S. and that the public is counting on safe and effective vaccines. The public and medical community can be confident that although we approved this vaccine expeditiously, it was fully in keeping with our existing high standards for vaccines in the U.S.”
News Editor Alyssa Schnugg contributed to this story.