The Food and Drug Administration said it is working as quickly as possible to grant full approval for the COVID-19 vaccines currently being distributed under emergency permits, CNN reported Thursday.
To date, the FDA has not said publicly when it expects to complete the process, but the agency told the network that it was urgently reviewing the drugmakers’ applications.
The FDA also emphasized that the vaccines have already undergone a “thorough scientific evaluation” in order to meet its “rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality.” Full approval will hinge on several months of additional data.
HuffPost requested further comment from the FDA but did not immediately receive a response.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were each granted an Emergency Use Authorization from the agency in December, while the Johnson & Johnson shot was granted its EUA in February.
The FDA announced earlier this month that it was prioritizing review of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine (which was the first to be approved for distribution in the United States) and expects to be done by January 2022. However, as FDA Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock noted on Twitter, that does not mean it will not be approved before that target.
Since December, more than 340 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed across the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But less than half of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, and the nation has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant. The new cases are concentrated in areas with low vaccination rates. When viruses are allowed to spread unchecked, they have more opportunity to mutate, and those mutations could make them more dangerous to humans.
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