US hopes to start virus vaccines in December as pandemic surges

A woman receives a COVID-19 vaccination from Yaquelin De La Cruz at the Research Centers of America (RCA) in Hollywood, Florida, on August 13, 2020. (File/AFP)
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Updated 22 November 2020

US hopes to start virus vaccines in December as pandemic surges

  • Slaoui estimated that 20 million people across the US could be vaccinated in December, with 30 million per month after that
  • The beginning of vaccinations could be a crucial shift in the battle against a virus that has claimed more than 1.4 million lives worldwide

WASHINGTON: The United States hopes to begin coronavirus vaccinations in early December, a top government health official said Sunday, the latest positive news to emerge even as cases surge across the worst-hit nation and elsewhere around the globe.
The beginning of vaccinations could be a crucial shift in the battle against a virus that has claimed more than 1.4 million lives worldwide, including 255,000 just in the US, since emerging from China late last year.
A slew of positive results from vaccines has bolstered hopes for an end to the pandemic as surging cases force nations to reimpose restrictions and lockdowns that slowed the spread earlier this year but turned lives and economies upside down across the globe.
Two leading vaccine candidates - one by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech and another by US firm Moderna -have shown to be 95 percent effective and Pfizer already applied to emergency use approval from US health authorities.
"Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunization sites within 24 hours of approval" by the US Food and Drug Administration, Moncef Slaoui, head of the US government virus vaccine effort, told CNN, pointing to possible dates of December 11-12.
FDA vaccine advisors reportedly will meet December 10 to discuss approving vaccines.
Slaoui estimated that 20 million people across the US could be vaccinated in December, with 30 million per month after that.
US drug regulators on Saturday already gave emergency approval to a Covid-19 antibody therapy - one used by US President Donald Trump - and G20 nations were pushing for global "equitable" access to vaccines with worries poorer nations will be left behind.
With cases surpassing 12 million in the United States, the highest in the world, many Americans were nonetheless heading to airports to travel for next week's Thanksgiving holiday despite health officials' warnings to stay home.
Some US states were imposing new restrictions, including California, where a 10 pm to 5 am curfew was taking effect. New York city has closed schools again.
On the opposite side of the Atlantic, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to announce that restrictions across England are to end on December 2 as planned, his office said.
But the lockdown will be followed by a return to a three-tiered set of regional curbs.
Britain has suffered more than any other country in Europe from the coronavirus, with more than 54,000 deaths from 1.4 million cases.


Russia reports record 28,145 new coronavirus cases, 554 deaths

Updated 03 December 2020

Russia reports record 28,145 new coronavirus cases, 554 deaths

  • Authorities reported 554 deaths in the last 24 hours

MOSCOW: Russia confirmed a record 28,145 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, including 7,750 in Moscow, taking the national total to 2,375,546.
Authorities also reported 554 deaths in the last 24 hours, pushing the official death toll to 41,607 since the pandemic began.