Indian-American scientist Prabha Atreya opens historic science court on Pfizer vaccine

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By Nikhila Natarajan
New York, Dec 10 (IANS)
Indian American scientist Dr Prabhakara Atreya opened America’s historic “science court” on Thursday as a high powered team of US regulators and independent experts who make up the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) begin an all-day debate on emergency use authorisation for Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine.
Atreya is the Acting Designated Federal Officer of VRBPAC which is at the heart of this blowout moment which marks a crucial turn in America’s catastrophic experience with the coronavirus.
A 10 year veteran at the US Food and Drug Administration which she joined in 2010, Atreya, prior to this appointment, worked at the National Institutes of Health, leading the Office of Scientific Review. She has a PhD in biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, in Canada.
Atreya joins a long list of Indian scientists and physicians who have come to represent the face of Indian Americans leading either policy or practitioner roles in the middle of a raging pandemic. Atreya was the first speaker at the Thursday meeting and kicked off the debate by introducing members of the VRBPAC.
The US FDA is expected to go along with the advice of the VRBPAC and there is no deadline for a decision.
“We want people to see this discussion, to see the issues that are brought up, and have a vigorous discussion of the data elements by the outside experts,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said in an interview.
When vaccinations do begin, health care workers and nursing home residents will be first in line.
Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have reported their shots are 95 per cent effective at preventing mild to severe Covid-19 disease in a large, ongoing study. The efficacy results are based on 170 infections. Only eight of the infections were among volunteers who got the vaccine; the rest were among those who got dummy shots.

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