COVID-19 pictures may attain the primary Individuals by mid-December, a senior well being official says

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) vaccination study at the Research Centers of America in Hollywood

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By Doina Chiacu

(Reuters) – U.S. health workers and others recommended for the country’s first COVID-19 vaccinations could receive shots within a day or two of regulatory approval next month, a top official on vaccine development efforts told the government Sunday with.

Roughly 70% of the US 330 million population would need to be vaccinated to achieve “herd” immunity to the virus, a goal the country could achieve by May, said Dr. Moncef Slaoui, Chief Scientific Advisor for Operation Warp Speed. “”

Slaoui said the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to approve distribution of the vaccine produced by mid-December Pfizer Inc (NYSE 🙂 and the German partner BioNTech start the largest vaccination campaign in US history.

The FDA’s outside advisors are expected to meet on December 10th to review Pfizer’s emergency application for its vaccine, which the company said is 95% effective against infections caused by the highly contagious respiratory virus.

A second pharmaceutical company Modern (NASDAQ 🙂 Inc is expected to file separate approval for its COVID-19 vaccine in December.

Slaoui appeared on several network newscasts on Sunday morning, devising a schedule to get the first doses of the FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine into the arms of those first in line to receive it.

“Within 24 hours of approval, the vaccine will move to the areas where each state has told us where they want the vaccine doses,” Slaoui told NBC’s Meet the Press.

“So I would expect hopefully the first people in the United States to be vaccinated on the second day after approval on December 11th or 12th,” he said on CNN’s State of the Union program.

Once the emergency clearance is granted, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a Vaccination Practices Advisory Board will recommend who should receive the vaccine first, Slaoui said.

Slaoui said they are likely to include frontline doctors, nurses and emergency medical staff, as well as those, such as the elderly, who are at greatest risk of serious illness and death from the virus.

Health officials in each state will be responsible for managing vaccine introduction, with initial doses being distributed to states in proportion to their population, he said.

President-elect Joe Biden and his advisors have raised concerns that President Donald Trump’s continued refusal to share vaccination dates and distribution plans with Biden’s transition team could lead to delays after the next administration took office on Jan. 20.

Slaoui said he hoped for a smooth handover and didn’t expect vaccination efforts to derail.

Graphic: Where coronavirus cases rise and fall in the US – https://graphics.reuters.com/HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS/USA-TRENDS/dgkvlgkrkpb/index.html

SURGICAL CASES AND SUPER SPREADERS

Details on the timeline emerged as coronavirus infections across the country continued to spiral out of control, further straining hospitals besieged with a growing number of COVID-19 patients.

Public health experts feared the spike would only get worse as millions of Americans were willing to travel in family groups for Thanksgiving celebrations and gather together despite warnings to stay home to avoid the disease spreading.

Many people made an effort to get tested on Thursday before the holidays, resulting in long lines at screening locations in New York City and elsewhere. Most pharmacies offering COVID-19 testing in suburban Chicago were fully booked.

“I believe that COVID rates will rise, just like I believe that most New Yorkers will gain weight,” lamented New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at a press conference on Sunday.

Cuomo also said the city is investigating reports of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish wedding that drew around 7,000 people to a reception in Brooklyn. Video footage showed a crowd of maskless guests celebrating shoulder to shoulder.

The United States exceeded 12 million COVID-19 cases on Saturday as the death toll rose to over 255,000 since the pandemic began.

Reuters data showed that the pace of new infections was accelerating. Nearly 1 million more cases have been documented in the past six days, compared to the eight days it took to go from 10 million to 11 million cases.

The epicenter of the U.S. pandemic has also shifted in recent weeks, with the Midwest and Rockies leading the nation in terms of rapidly escalating infections.

“It’s really common all over the country,” said Dr. Tom Inglesby, Director of the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University, on Fox News Sunday. “It’s not just in big cities, it’s also in rural areas, small towns.”

While the prospect of effective vaccines has brought new hope to a country whose social and economic life has been negatively affected by the virus, public suspicions about vaccination remain high. In a recent Gallup poll, only 58% of Americans said they were receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, up from 50% in September.

The incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said vaccine distribution also posed huge logistical challenges.

“Vaccines don’t save lives, vaccines save lives,” he told ABC on Sunday. “The much bigger step is to get these vaccinations out to the American people. It’s hard.”

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