Pfizer calls on the FDA approving its vaccine, the CDC urges Americans to avoid Thanksgiving trips, and the federal response to the pandemic raises renewed concern. Here’s what you need to know:
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Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine first to seek emergency use authorization in the United States
Pfizer and BioNTech apply for emergency use authorization the FDA today for their coronavirus vaccine, the first to seek approval in the United States. The news comes just days after the companies announced they had the data needed to research emergency use and found the vaccine to be 95% effective and safe. The vaccine requires two doses a few weeks apart, and the companies say recipients are protected against SARS-CoV-2 28 days after receiving the first vaccine. It should be transported and stored at unbelievably cold temperatures.
It seems likely that the FDA make up your mind on granting an emergency use authorization after the meeting of its Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Related Biologics on December 8, 9 and 10. After that, a CDC advisory committee will review the data and decide which groups should be vaccinated first. The vaccine could be available by the middle to the end of next month. Moderna also published promising first results of its vaccine trial this week and may be ready to seek FDA approval soon. The agency may be reviewing both mRNA vaccines at the same time.
Virus continues to rise as officials urge Americans not to travel for vacation
Coronavirus cases and hospitalization rates continue to rise at alarming rates across the country. Since this week, more than one quarter of a million Americans died from Covid-19. Infectious disease experts believe that more than 3 million people across the United States are currently infected and potentially contagious.
As the virus spreads rapidly, even state and local authorities who were once resistant to issuing restrictions have started to run rampant. Governors in States like New Mexico and California announced new stay-at-home orders and bans on non-essential domestic services, while the New York public school system interrupted in-person schooling. Thursday, CDC officials urged Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving at the agency’s first press briefing in months. Even if you get tested beforehand or avoid flight, there is no sure way to get together with people outside your home to celebrate the holidays this year.
Federal response to pandemic raises new concerns as aid programs expire at year-end
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Thursday he would end several Federal Reserve operations emergency loan programs at the end of the year. He demanded that the unspent money initially given to the Fed under the first stimulus bill be reallocated, a move criticized by the central bank. Two unemployment programs which help millions are also expected to expire at the end of the year.
During Briefing from the White House Coronavirus Working Group this week – the first in months – Vice President Mike Pence acknowledged the increase in cases across the country, touted the imminent arrival of a vaccine and condemned the idea of a nationwide lockdown. But clear national guidelines remain elusive. Overall, the lack of transparency Coronavirus policies across the country have made it more difficult for the public to assess the work being done and for individuals to adapt their behavior throughout this pandemic. All this ensures that, while the end may be soon in sight, this crisis get worse before it gets better.
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