FDA advisor who voted against recommending Pfizer’s Covid vaccine explains why she would ‘be first in line’ to get it

The Food and Drug Administration vaccine advisory panel signed off on Pfizer’s Covid vaccine with a 17 to 4 vote, with one abstention on Thursday night. Dr. Archana Chatterjee, dean of the Chicago Medical School, was one of the four “no” votes. Chatterjee explained her decision during a Friday evening interview on “The News with Shepard Smith.”

“I want to make it very clear that I am full in support of the authorization through this emergency use authorization process of the Pfizer- BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for use in adults 18-years-of-age and older,” Chatterjee said. “The ‘no’ vote from me came because there was not the opportunity to vote on that question.”

Chatterjee explained to host Shepard Smith that the question placed before the committee was to include 16 and 17-year-olds. She said she believed the amount of data that the panel had on the younger participants was very small, and was inadequate to make a determination for that participant population. Chatterjee added that based on her vote, she’d wait to give 16-year-olds the vaccine until there’s more data. 

Vaccine progress comes on the heels of the coronavirus pandemic’s deadliest week yet in the United States. During an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that, “probably for the next 60 to 90 days, we’re going to have more deaths per day than we had on 9/11 or we had at Pearl Harbor.” At least 293,000 Americans have already died in the U.S. from Covid-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins.

Nationwide, more people are hospitalized with Covid-19 than ever before, with more than 107,000 hospitalized with the virus on Thursday, according to the Covid Tracking Project. For context, that’s the full capacity of Michigan Stadium, the largest stadium in the nation.

Chatterjee told Smith that she would “absolutely” get the vaccine. “If it was my priority risk group’s turn, I would be first in line,” she said.

Chatterjee said that her message to people who are afraid of getting the vaccine is that it is both safe and effective. Pfizer data showed that its vaccine was 95% effective and had no serious side effects. 

“There were no major safety signals that would give us pause to not recommend this vaccine for authorization, so I would say the vaccine is safe and effective and will be one of the mechanisms through which we will get out of this deadly pandemic,” Chatterjee said.  

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