An independent advisory panel recommended that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorize Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. Although the FDA is not obligated to heed the recommendations, it is expected that the federal agency will do so imminently.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced last week that the state would receive 1.4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine starting on Monday.
BREAKING: FDA Advisory Panel Approves Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine. A favorable recommendation paves the way… https://t.co/cmuHnGqxbc— Greg Abbott (@Greg Abbott)1607640853.0
The Austin area will receive an initial allotment of 13,650 doses, which will be distributed to priority populations pending FDA approval.
The first doses will go to a handful of hospitals in Travis, Hays and Williamson counties, with earliest access going to nursing home residents, front-line healthcare workers and EMS first responders, according to Austin Public Health.
"We are excited for our hospital systems partners to begin vaccinating our front-line hospital workers against this virus," Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said in a statement last week.
It will likely take many months before the vaccine is widely available to the general public. Local health officials have stressed that Austinites will need to maintain protective measures—such as masking, social distancing and hand washing—until herd immunity is achieved through inoculation.
The Pfizer vaccine requires ultra-cold storage and two doses, administered three weeks apart. The pharmaceutical company announced last month that preliminary data showed its vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19.
Encouragingly, documents published by the FDA earlier this week showed that the Pfizer vaccine provides strong protection against COVID within about 10 days of the first dose, as the New York Times reported Thursday.
The Pfizer vaccine relies on a spike protein invented by a team of scientists led by Dr. Jason McLellan, an associate professor of molecular biosciences at the University of Texas at Austin.
"The fact that many of these leading (vaccine) candidates contain some of these mutations that we designed several years ago is just fantastic," he told Austonia last month.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in the UK issued an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine last week. Canada's equivalent agency followed suit on Wednesday.
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Austin FC couldn't find the stamina to fight off a 2-0 loss against LAFC for their inaugural match on Saturday.
The match, which saw No. 21 Austin FC go head-to-head with No. 2 LAFC in Los Angeles, was broadcast nationally on FOX and FOX Deportes.
Salute the support. 👏
It's only the beginning for @AustinFC. pic.twitter.com/TduorqYr2y
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 18, 2021
Eleven players took the stage as Austin FC players for the first time, with five starters making their MLS debut. "Ringleader" Alex Ring took the captain's armband and wore it well. The defensive midfielder could be seen leading his teammates through their first ever match, but it wasn't enough to stage an Austin takeover in LA.
In the signature style of Head Coach Josh Wolff, the team played with quickness and intensity, nearly connecting on several fast breaks. It was harder for them to stay in front, however, something that Wolff credits with quick decision making and a tough LAFC defense.
"We have a quick attacking team, but I think when you make quick attacks and it fizzles it's just about some decision making," Wolff said. "Are we in position to finish attacks? If not, can we reestablish our attack and get stuff better?"
The club was given some generous breaks from No. 2 LAFC, who had one or both of their star DPs out for the half. While forward Diego Rossi is out for the entire match due to a hamstring injury, Carlos Vela was accidentally pulled too soon on what turned out to be a miscommunication.
"He gave us the sign that he needed to come off," LAFC Head Coach Bob Bradley said on broadcast. "I can't say more than maybe it's my fault."
LA pulled some dramatics and slowly gained more possession throughout the half, but ATXFC's defense wasn't initially as shaky as it seemed in preseason. Jhohan Romana has pulled his weight in getting the ball out of goal, and a 34-year old Matt Besler held his own in center back.
As the second half commenced, however, it became clear that LAFC had the advantage over Austin's first major league team.
Goalkeeper Brad Stuver had his work cut out for him, fending off 24 shot attempts, 11 of which were on goal. He didn't have much time to prepare, either: in the first 30 seconds of play, Stuver had already made a save to keep the match 0-0.
LAFC finally connected in the 61st minute of play as Corey Baird shot one into the bottom right corner. The team capitalized off their momentum and put one past Stuver a second time, drawing roars of approval from the LAFC crowd.
While some last-minute attempts from Jon Gallagher and others were made, Austin FC didn't have the endurance to bring a tie. After seven additional minutes of stoppage time, the club lost their first match 2-0.
While the scoreboard tells one story, Wolff said that the team did well considering the skill of LAFC and the pressure of their club debut.
"We've got to be realistic," Wolff said. "This is the first time this organization has been in front of TV with an opportunity to show itself and I think there were some promising moments. And we're going to maximize those and continue to try to develop those, but there's lots to build on."
The team may have lost, but it still won the support of thousands of Verde fans, dozens of which made it to watch their team's first match. When Stuver and the team made it to bthe stadium, Los Verdes fans were already there to show support, and Stuver said his wife saw the same back in Austin.
"The moment that we pulled into the stadium, we saw Black and Verde fans cheering us on as we got to the stadium," Stuver said. "During warm up, you can just look around and see different groups sitting in different sections of the stadium and it's just truly amazing to see the support in our first game. We know that we want to give the fans everything, because this we play for the city and we play for them."