Updated Dec. 21, 2020
Vaccine development usually takes years. However, in this case, scientists had already begun researching coronavirus vaccines during previous outbreaks like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012. SARS, MERS and COVID-19 are all members of the coronavirus family. Lessons learned from this earlier research provided a head start, allowing for rapid development of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use on Friday, Dec. 11. Once our medical experts have reviewed the findings from the FDA's COVID-19 vaccine authorization process, we will communicate those findings to our community.
Emergency use authorization
During an emergency, the FDA can issue an emergency use authorization (EUA) to provide more timely access to critical medical products like medicines and tests.
The EUA process allows the FDA to authorize use based on less data than would be required for full approval, clearance or licensing.
Once the EUA is given, it is in effect until the emergency ends, but it can always be revised or revoked as the emergency evolves, or more data becomes available.
Ingredients will vary by vaccine type. As the FDA approves the vaccines, better answers will become available. The vaccine manufacturers are required to submit this information as part of the approval process.
This list may change as we get more information, but we do not currently have any reason to believe that the COVID-19 vaccines will contain any of the following ingredients:
- Fetal cells
- Blood products, like red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma or platelets
- COVID-19 virus cells
- Sometimes there are microchips on the outside of a syringe, so the health care professional can scan it quickly for digital records. The world’s tiniest microchip is still much too big to insert into an immunization shot.