The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

FDA poised to grant full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine

The Douglas Peace Arch border crossing, with motorists traveling from Blaine, Wash., into Surrey, B.C. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press/AP)
Please Note

The Washington Post is providing this important information about the coronavirus for free. For more free coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, sign up for our Coronavirus Updates newsletter where all stories are free to read.

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to grant full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine in the coming days, according to four people with knowledge of the plans.

If approved, the vaccine would be the first in the United States to receive full licensure, and it could result in private businesses issuing a new wave of vaccine mandates.

Public health experts have argued that the FDA’s move to grant full approval will be a pivotal moment in the fight against the pandemic, predicting that it would ease the ability of employers to mandate that millions of holdout Americans get vaccinated.

Here’s what to know:

Coronavirus: What you need to know

The latest: The CDC has loosened many of its recommendations for battling the coronavirus, a strategic shift that puts more of the onus on individuals, rather than on schools, businesses and other institutions, to limit viral spread.

Variants: BA.5 is the most recent omicron subvariant, and it’s quickly become the dominant strain in the U.S. Here’s what to know about it, and why vaccines may only offer limited protection.

Vaccines: Vaccines: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone age 12 and older get an updated coronavirus booster shot designed to target both the original virus and the omicron variant circulating now. You’re eligible for the shot if it has been at least two months since your initial vaccine or your last booster. An initial vaccine series for children under 5, meanwhile, became available this summer. Here’s what to know about how vaccine efficacy could be affected by your prior infections and booster history.

Guidance: CDC guidelines have been confusing — if you get covid, here’s how to tell when you’re no longer contagious. We’ve also created a guide to help you decide when to keep wearing face coverings.

Where do things stand? See the latest coronavirus numbers in the U.S. and across the world. The omicron variant is behind much of the recent spread.

For the latest news, sign up for our free newsletter.