Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Monday that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will move "as quickly as possible" to clear vaccine candidates developed by Moderna and Pfizer for emergency use.
Azar told "Squawk Box" on CNBC that the FDA would review their effectiveness and safety and remove "any unnecessary bureaucratic barriers" standing between the two vaccines hitting the market.
“We hope those applications from both Pfizer and Moderna will get in as quickly as possible,” Azar said. “We will independently call those balls and strikes on the data and evidence, but we’re going to do so as quickly as possible, consistent with just making sure the science, the evidence and the law support authorization.”
“The product will roll off the production lines — tens and tens of millions of doses each month — and we’ll vaccinate as we get them and as they’re quality controlled and released,” he added, pointing to the federal government's agreements with several major companies to supply a COVID-19 vaccine that is cleared for use.
Azar has previously said that a vaccine could be widely available to the American public by next spring, while vulnerable communities such as nursing homes could receive a vaccine as early as December.
Pfizer and German company BioNTech announced earlier this month that their vaccine was more than 90 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 in clinical trials, an announcement that spurred hope for an end to the global pandemic in the months ahead and caused a rally financial markets.
That announcement was followed by Moderna's on Monday, with the company saying its vaccine candidate was more than 94 percent effective in preventing the disease in similar trials and will be under FDA review "in the coming weeks."
“This is a pivotal moment in the development of our COVID-19 vaccine candidate,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said. “Since early January, we have chased this virus with the intent to protect as many people around the world as possible. All along, we have known that each day matters."