Pfizer said Saturday that it will begin shipping its COVID-19 vaccine on Sunday after the Food and Drug Administration authorized the vaccine for emergency use.
Pfizer told reporters that it expected the first vaccine shipments to begin leaving a facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on Sunday morning, according to CNN.
The FDA authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use on Friday night, following an advisory panel's recommendation on Thursday that the vaccine's benefits outweigh its risks for individuals 16 and over.
While on "Good Morning America" Friday morning, Health and Human Services Director Alex Azar said Americans "could see people getting vaccinated Monday, Tuesday of next week."
The FDA was not required to follow the advisory panel's recommendation, but it was expected that the federal agency would follow their guidance, given the nearly 300,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. Plus, countries including the U.K. and Canada have approved the vaccine, as well.
On Friday morning, President Trump took aim at the FDA, tweeting, "While my pushing the money drenched but heavily bureaucratic @US_FDA saved five years in the approval of NUMEROUS great new vaccines, it is still a big, old, slow turtle. Get the dam vaccines out NOW, Dr. Hahn @SteveFDA. Stop playing games and start saving lives!!!"
The FDA's announcement also followed reports that White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told FDA chief Stephen Hahn on Friday to grant emergency use authorization for the vaccine by the end of the day or face possible firing, The Associated Press reported, citing two administration officials.
Hahn, however, said that was not an accurate characterization of the phone call.
"This is an untrue representation of the phone call with the Chief of Staff," Hahn said in a statement. "The FDA was encouraged to continue working expeditiously on Pfizer-BioNTech’s EUA request. FDA is committed to issuing this authorization quickly, as we noted in our statement this morning."
On Friday morning, the FDA said in a statement, "Following yesterday’s positive advisory committee meeting outcome regarding the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has informed the sponsor that it will rapidly work toward finalization and issuance of an emergency use authorization. The agency has also notified the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Operation Warp Speed, so they can execute their plans for timely vaccine distribution."