“the FDA’s approval is coming nearly two weeks after British regulators greenlighted the same vaccine, and almost a month since Pfizer/BioNTech submitted its final data for the agency to review.
Had the FDA acted more swiftly—say by bumping up the December 10 meeting it held to recommend approval of the Pfizer vaccine—Monday’s good news could have arrived a few weeks earlier. Meanwhile, the advisory committee tasked with evaluating another vaccine developed by Moderna is not set to meet until Thursday.
Given the slow rollout of these vaccines (slow, at least, when considered against the number of people needing to be vaccinated), it’s easy to think that the delay of a few days or weeks isn’t all that consequential.
Not so, says George Mason University economist Alex Tabarrok, who deploys some back-of-the-envelope math to argue that a few thousand people will die for every day the FDA dawdles in approving new vaccines.”