The head of the US effort to produce a coronavirus vaccine says the first immunizations could occur on December 12.
An advisory committee from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will meet on December 10 to discuss Pfizer Inc.’s request for an emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine in development.
Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech recently announced that the vaccine appears to be 95% effective in preventing mild to severe COVID-19 disease in a large ongoing study.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui, head of Operation Warp Speed, the coronavirus vaccine program, says plans are to ship the vaccines to states within 24 hours of the expected FDA approval.
Slaoui told CNN that he expects vaccines to begin on the second day after approval, on December 12.
America’s leading infectious disease expert says he’s concerned that overcrowding at U.S. airports due to Thanksgiving travel could lead to a dangerous situation as COVID-19 cases rise.
Dr. Anthony Fauci told CBS “Face the Nation” on Sunday that “people at airports” despite federal guidance to avoid travel “are going to get us in more trouble than we are now.”
He noted that the new Thanksgiving Day COVID-19 cases won’t become apparent until weeks later, making it “very difficult” as the virus spins out of control and heads toward colder weather and December holiday season.
Fauci said that a substantial portion of those hospitalized with the virus are now between 40 and 59 years old, as well as elderly and vulnerable people.
He stressed that vaccines should be available in the coming months, but said Americans will have to “hang on” in the meantime by taking precautions to stop the spread. That includes limiting holiday gatherings to people in the same household if possible, wearing masks, distancing yourself socially, and washing your hands.
More than 58 million people worldwide have been infected with the coronavirus, the Johns Hopkins Resource Center reported early Sunday.
The United States continues to lead the world in infections with more than 12 million cases, followed by India with 9 million infections and Brazil with 6 million.
The virus has claimed more than 1.3 million lives. More than a quarter of a million of those deaths occurred in the United States.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans on December 2 to end, as scheduled, the virus-imposed closures across England, and will return to regional restrictions as coronavirus infections stabilize.
Turkey saw a record number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 for the second day in a row on Sunday, registering 6,017 new symptomatic patients, according to the Health Ministry. The number of new daily cases exceeded the previous peak of the outbreak in April. The weekend night closures were introduced for the first time since June, and businesses such as restaurants and bars were ordered to close.
In Italy, the number of new cases of confirmed COVID-19 cases dropped by several thousand on Sunday, but nearly 50,000 fewer swab tests were performed to detect the virus than the day before, according to the Health Ministry. Italy added 28,337 confirmed cases, rising to 1,408,868, the country’s total in the pandemic.
The old and emblematic Rastro de Madrid It reopened on Sunday after a controversial eight-month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has hit the Spanish capital.
After lengthy negotiations, city authorities agreed that the Rastro could open at 50% capacity, with half of its 1,000 stalls alternating every Sunday for a maximum crowd of 2,700. Police supported with drones monitored the market to avoid overcrowding.
Dating from the 1700s, El Rastro sells the usual mix of flea markets for antiques, clothing, furniture, trinkets and curios at stalls that wind their way through a burrow-like neighborhood next to Madrid’s majestic Plaza Mayor.
Chile, which closed its borders on March 18, announced that it will open its main border crossing and its main airport to foreign visitors on Monday after an eight-month pandemic shutdown.
Those arriving will be required to present evidence of a recent negative test for the novel coronavirus, as well as medical insurance. They will also have to report their whereabouts and state of health during a two-week surveillance period. Those from high-risk countries must be quarantined for 14 days.
President Sebastián Piñera on Sunday urged people to maintain precautions to avoid another wave of COVID-19: “The coronavirus is still among us and that is why we cannot be careless.”
The country plans to gradually reopen other airports and border posts as the South American nation tries to revive the tourism industry.