Montana Republican Senator Steve Daines on Friday urged Americans to have confidence in Pfizer and BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine, drawing on his experience as a participant in the companies' Phase 3 clinical trial.
The US pharmaceutical company and German biotech company announced on Friday that they intend to apply for an emergency permit from the US Food and Drug Administration. This makes them the first companies to do this for a Covid-19 vaccine. The final data released this week showed that the vaccine was 95% effective in preventing the disease. The FDA review process is expected to take a few weeks.
"This is great news for the American people. This is how we end this pandemic," Daines said on The Exchange. "The reason my wife and I attended is because we want to help build trust in these vaccines."
Daines said he didn't experience any major side effects after receiving his first vaccination in the study in late August. Pfizer's vaccine requires two doses. While participants in double-blind studies are not told whether they will receive the vaccine or a placebo, Daines has reason to believe that he did indeed receive the experimental candidate.
"It reminded me of the flu shot. It was practically painless, the vaccine itself. I had a bit of pain in my arm for a couple of days, and then I had a slight chills the day after that lasted for about a couple of hours. They decided, and I felt perfectly fine the next day, "said Daines, who won re-election earlier this month. "That was probably an indicator that I had the vaccine."
Daines also said he later tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies, which can help build immunity and prevent re-infection. Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine produces neutralizing antibodies.
Daines is the second Republican senator this week to announce his participation in vaccine trials. On Tuesday, Ohio Senator Rob Portman told CNBC that he had signed up for Johnson & Johnson's third phase. The men shared similar motives for signing up.
"It's one thing to have the vaccines that I think will be ready by the end of this year, really in just a month and a half, but we have to be sure that people are ready to get vaccinated." said Portman said. "The reason I took part in this study was because I think the vaccines are so important."
The news of Pfizer and BioNTech's FDA filing comes at a critical time in the U.S. coronavirus pandemic. New infections every day rose to a record level, as did hospital admissions for Covid-19 patients. On Thursday, deaths hit levels not seen since early May.
Several federal agencies have started telling workers they could be vaccinated with the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNtech – or Moderna, which is nearing an FDA filing – in just eight weeks, CNBC reported Friday, citing one Person with knowledge of the plans.
Each approved coronavirus vaccine would initially be limited in its quantity. Healthcare workers, as well as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, are likely to receive the vaccine first. Once FDA approves, "the vaccines will be at the vaccination sites and people will be vaccinated within 24 hours," said Operation Warp Speed advisor Dr. Moncef Slaoui, opposite CNBC on Friday.