Coronavirus updates: Vaccine distribution has begun; FDA officials assure public that Pfizer vaccine

Author : mulodela
Publish Date : 2020-12-12


Coronavirus updates: Vaccine distribution has begun; FDA officials assure public that Pfizer vaccine

A day after authorizing the first COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S., federal officials said Saturday that distribution has begun.

“As I speak today, right now, vaccines are being packaged,” Gen. Gustave Perna, co-leader of Operation Warp Speed in charge of logistics, said Saturday. “Tomorrow morning, vaccines will start rolling from manufacturing to distribution hubs. By Monday, vaccines will be received.”

The vaccine will be sent to to 636 locations nationwide this week, with 145 sites receiving doses Monday, 425 on Tuesday and the final 66 on Wednesday, Perna said.

No vaccine was prepositioned in advance, Perna said. “We did not want to presume” emergency use authorization, he said. “We did all of our rehearsals … Under no circumstances did we want to get ahead of the great FDA and their decision making.”

Earlier Saturday, Food and Drug Administration officials reassured the American public that the agency did not cut corners in its review.

“Science and data guided the FDA’s decision. We worked quickly because of the urgency of this pandemic, not because of any other external pressure,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said. “I will absolutely take this COVID-19 vaccine.”

Hahn said reports Friday that the White House had threatened to fire him if the agency did not authorize the vaccine were “inaccurate.”

The United States is on the cusp of having lost 300,000 people to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, and federal regulators are under intense pressure to quickly roll out the vaccine to health care and other frontline workers nationwide.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates. For headlines in your inbox, sign up for our newsletter, Coronavirus Watch.

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Here are today’s top headlines:

  • An advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was meeting Saturday to vote on a final recommendation on who should get the vaccine first.
  • The Food and Drug Administration late Fridaygranted emergency authorization to Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine that data shows is highly effective at preventing a disease.
  • In a video announcing the emergency authorization, President Donald Trump called the vaccine a “medical miracle” that will “save millions of lives and end the pandemic once and for all.” He said the first doses would be administered in the U.S. “in less than 24 hours.”
  • The promising news will not immediately end the pandemic, which is still raging out of control. Dr. Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech estimated it would be until March or April before the vaccine could impact the virus’ spread — underscoring the need for measures like mask-wearing and social distancing in the meantime.
  • About 1 in 8 U.S. hospitals had little or no intensive care unit beds available last week, according to new federal data. Experts say the number of hospitals struggling to accommodate the nation’s sickest patients likely will increase following another week of record COVID-19 cases.

CDC advisers meet Saturday to make final recommendation on who should get vaccine first

An advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention meets Saturday to vote on a final recommendation on who should get the vaccine first.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices provides guidance for the CDC to set adult and childhood immunization schedules, including the ages the vaccine should be given, the number of doses needed, the amount of time between doses and precautions and contraindications.

The committee consists of 15 experts who are voting members and primarily responsible for the vaccine recommendations. The secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services selects the committee members.

Who is likely to be first in line? Health care workers and nursing home residents. Here’s what we know about how the vaccine will be delivered.

Friday set another record for COVID-19 cases, deaths

On the same day that the FDA approved the first vaccine for emergency use in the United States, the nation reached another milestone in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

The country recorded 3,309 coronavirus deaths Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University data, surpassing Wednesday’s record when 3,124 people died. Friday also saw the highest number of daily cases to date in the U.S., 231,775.



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