US President-elect Joe Biden has hailed the "positive news in this fight" against coronavirus, after Monday's announcement of "progress made toward a successful vaccine" — but added the process must "be grounded in science and fully transparent."
"Soon, the expectation is the FDA will run the process of rigorous reviews and approvals. And the process must also be grounded in science and fully transparent so the American people can have every confidence that any approved vaccine is safe and effective," he said during a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, after being briefed by his newly-formed coronavirus advisory board.
Biden added that even if a vaccine is approved, it "will not be widely available for many months yet to come."
Drugmaker Pfizer announced Monday that an early look at data shows its vaccine is more than 90% effective -- a much better than expected efficacy if the trend continues.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus posted on Twitter on Monday that the announcement was "encouraging" news.
"We welcome the encouraging vaccine news," Tedros tweeted, adding that WHO salutes all scientists and partners around the world who are "developing new safe, efficacious tools" to beat Covid-19.
Tedros said the world was experiencing "unprecedented scientific innovation" and "collaboration" to end the pandemic. According to WHO, as of last week, there are at least 47 Covid-19 candidate vaccines in clinical evaluation around the world.
Admiral Brett Giroir, the US Department of Health and Human Services' assistant secretary for health, also said he was encouraged, during a call with reporters.
"We are all very optimistic that this vaccine, and others also in clinical trials, can effectively end the pandemic. But until that vaccine is widely administered and distributed, we have much work to do," Giroir said. "Our nation is in a critical phase of the pandemic, with significant community spread, cases averaging nearly 100,000 per day."
Giroir emphasized that people in the United States must continue physical distancing, wearing masks and maintaining hand hygiene -- and said that testing remains important.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer called the results "great news," adding that she was proud to see that Pfizer, "a Michigan business … will produce the vaccine."
Whitmer cautioned that when the vaccine is ready "it will take time to distribute," saying everyone needed to "continue doing their part" to protect each other from Covid-19, and that was why it was "so important that President-Elect Biden has announced a team of medical experts to lead our country’s COVID-19 response."
"It is crucial that leaders across the country listen to science and the recommendations of health experts, and President-Elect Biden has made it clear that he shares that commitment," she added.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada had signed a deal with the drug company in August to secure millions of doses, adding that other vaccine candidates were also progressing well.
"In Canada and around the world, scientists are working very hard and doing a great job. We hope to see vaccines landing in the early next year," he said. "Between now and then, it’s really, really important that we double down on our efforts."
He emphasized how important it was for Canadians to control the spread of Covid-19 in the coming months, so that when vaccines arrive the country can act quickly.
"We see the light at the end of the tunnel. We are hopeful we are getting there because our scientists are working incredibly hard," Trudeau said. "But we need to do our part. We need to stay strong and hang in there a few more months – maybe more than that, but, we can see it coming."
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that if the vaccine passes all the rigorous safety checks and is approved for use, "this country will be ready to start using it."
Speaking at a news conference at Downing Street, Johnson said the vaccine had been tested on over 40,000 volunteers and interim results suggested it was 90% effective.
"But we haven’t yet seen the full safety data, and these findings also need to be peer-reviewed. So we’ve cleared one significant hurdle, but there are still several more to go before we know the vaccine can be used," he said.
He said the UK government had ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine -- enough for about a third of the population at two doses each "and that puts us toward the front of the international pack on a per capita basis." The UK has also ordered more than 300 million doses from five other vaccine candidates, he added.
Watch Biden's message on masks: