Brief #86 – Health and Gender

Author Taylor J Smith

Brief Title: Pfizer and BioNTech Vaccine Receives US Approval

The Policy

The US saw a million new COVID-19 cases in the first five days of December and states have begun reimplementing restrictions; However, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer & BioNTech vaccine last weekend and Moderna was approved this week. First doses of the Pfizer & BioN Tech vaccine have arrived in the US with health care workers and nursing home residents are at the top of distribution lists.

Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine’s data review confirmed that it is highly protective, with an efficacy rate of 94.1%. Side effects of the vaccine include a fever, a headache and fatigue, while all were found to be unpleasant, none were in fact dangerous. Once approved, the distribution of millions of doses could begin as early as next week.

Over the summer, the US government signed deals with both companies to acquire 200 million doses by early 2021, and last week, the White House announced they had purchased an additional 100 million doses from Moderna. With 300 million expected doses, 150 million Americans can be expected to be vaccinated with one of the two-dose vaccines developed through Operation Warp Speed. However, that number is less than half of the US population and it is unclear how long it will take to get everyone vaccinated.

COVID-19 Internationally

-Puerto Rico reports it has received only half of the doses of the 32,500 doses expected for the island. The mix up is said to be a result of logistical error, with the other half of doses expected to arrive in the next two days.

-The first doses of the Pfizer & BioNTech vaccine has been administered in the United Kingdom. Notably, a William Shakespeare was the second patient in the UK to receive a vaccination. For the first time in the organization’s history, humanitarian organization UNICEF will help feed people in Britain as children struggle with food insecurity amid the pandemic.

-Ecuador’s health ministry has approved the use of Pfizer & BioNTech’s vaccine, with doses arriving in January 2021.

-Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced that mass vaccination is necessary to end the pandemic, a shift from his previous stance on the pandemic. With this statement, he still has not been vaccinated with Russian-made Sputnik V, as it is not advised for people older than 60 and Putin is 68.

-French President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for the virus on Thursday morning. Currently no Prime Ministers who recently met with the President have tested positive.

-European Union plans on vaccinating citizens on December 27, 28, and 29, according to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

-Japan’s capital Tokyo reported the highest single-day rise in cases since the start of the pandemic on Thursday.


There have been over 300,000 American deaths due to the coronavirus. Multiple vaccines during what is expected to be one of America’s darkest winters is a feigned beacon of hope, as experts say the vaccine is too late to stop the impending wave of infections and deaths. New estimates put covid-19 related deaths over 500,000 by April, another 200,000+ deaths in the next three months.

The expected approval of Moderna’s vaccine reassures vaccine shortage fears, as both manufactures are capable of mass production, with hopes of having enough for the entire country by late 2021. Both vaccines are provided free of charge, quelling fears of accessibility. However, Pfizer & BioNTech’s vaccine requires much colder storage, making shipping, storage, and handling more complicated, especially for communities with limited or insufficient infrastructure. These potential issues are small in comparison to the very real possibility that a good portion of Americans will not want to get vaccinated. A new survey found that around a quarter of Americans simply don’t want the vaccine, most citing lack of government trust and possible side effects as top concerns.

Here’s how some of the vaccines compare:

Producers Type Doses Needed Efficacy Storage Cost Per Dose
Oxford / AstraZeneca Viral Vector Two 62-90% Regular fridge temp  


Moderna RNA Two 95% -20C, up to 6 months $33
Pfizer / BioNTech RNA Two 95% -70C $20
Gamaleya (Sputnik V) Viral Vector Two 92% Regular fridge temp $10


Engagement Resources:

For concerns about COVID-19, please seek assistance with the Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, or local health officials.

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Number of COVID-19 cases and deaths as of December 17, 2020 – Consult the CDC or Johns Hopkins for an update in numbers.

Nation Confirmed Cases Deaths
Globally 74,467,555 1,654,461
United States 17,011,532 308,098
India 9,956,557 144,451
Brazil 7,040,608 183,735
Russia 2,736,727 48,568
France 2,465,246 59,472
Turkey 1,928,165 17,364
United Kingdom 1,918,786 65,618
Italy 1,906,377 67,220
Spain 1,773,290 48,596
Argentina 1,517,046 41,365


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