The FDA considers the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine this week. U.K. regulators have already approved it. U.S. regulators are slow-walking.
An Emergency Use Authorization for the vaccine could come at the end of this week, or the beginning of next week. When doses start rolling out they’ll be in short supply (and there will be a race for those with enough money, status or power to get one).
Airline pilots, though, are going to have to wait for FAA approval once there’s FDA approval.
The FAA says it hasn’t yet determined whether pilots will be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and keep their medicals.
… “The FAA is closely monitoring the active vaccine trials and awaiting the outcome of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee’s scheduled meeting next week…While the agency has made no final decisions, we are prepared to evaluate the use of each vaccine by medical certificate holders as soon as an emergency-use authorization is issued.”
Pilots can’t participate in Phase III vaccine trials. That makes sense. Since those trials follow not just how effective a vaccine is, but track study participants to determine side effects, and since pilots are responsible for the lives of hundreds of passengers and fellow crewmembers at a time, taking risks of this sort to their health (especially unknown risks) aren’t permitted.
And when the FDA gives its initial approval for a Covid-19 it will not be full approval (emergency use) so the FAA will consider its use by pilots separately even if pilots are considered essential or frontline workers for jumping to the head of the queue for access.
The AstraZeneca vaccine should be for sale in India for ~ $8 starting in March and it may be possible to get Sinopharm’s vaccine in Dubai and Bahrain now. But pilots can’t just do that vaccine tourism.
(HT: Dennis Y.)