COVID-19 Update: FDA to Approve Pfizer’s Vaccine; AstraZeneca to Collaborate with Makers of Russian Vaccine; and More

On Friday, December 11, 2020, here are the latest COVID-19 numbers around the world, according to statistics aggregator, Worldometer.

  • World Cases: Over 70.9 million.
  • World Deaths: 1,594,074 deaths.

Countries Outside of the US with Most Infections:

  • India: 9,814,064 confirmed cases; 142,417 deaths.
  • Brazil: 6,783,543 confirmed cases; 179,801 deaths.
  • Russia: 2,597,711 confirmed cases; 45,893 deaths.
  • France: 2,337,966 confirmed cases; 56,940 deaths.
  • Italy: 1,805,873 confirmed cases; 63,387 deaths.

AstraZeneca Partners with Makers of Russian Vaccine

AstraZeneca is launching a joint clinical trial with the makers of the Russian COVID-19 to test its vaccine in combination with Sputnik V. “Today we announce a clinical trial programme to assess safety and immunogenicity of combination of AZD1222, developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and Sputnik V, developed by Russian Gamaleya Research institute. It will begin enrolling adults aged 18 years and older,” AstraZeneca said.

Canada Approves Pfizer Vaccine for Emergency Use

Canadian health officials approved Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday, just says ahead of a possible approval in the US. “This a momentous occasion,” Dr. Supriya Sharma, chief medical advisor at Health Canada, said. “The geek in me is amazed. No one would have thought, even when we looked back at the first discovery of the virus, that less than a year later we would authorizing and distributing a vaccine.”

UK Begins Vaccinating

The United Kingdom has officially become the first world nation to begin vaccinating its citizens against COVID-19. The first Briton to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was a 90-year-old woman named Margaret Keenan – she received the first two doses at around 6:30 am local time on Tuesday. “It’s the best early birthday present I could wish for because it means I can finally look forward to spending time with my family and friends in the New Year after being on my own for most of the year,” Keenan said, according to a statement released by the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). “This is for a good cause so I’m so pleased I had it done. This is a terrible, terrible disease so we do want rid of it,” she added.

Japan Approves $708 Billion Stimulus Package

Japan has approved a $708 billion stimulus package intended to reboot its economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a report, stimulus package allocates $384 billion USD to fiscal spending from the government, $177 billion to post-coronavirus economic growth, $57 billion to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and $54 billion to infrastructure improvement.

National News

Friday, December 11, 2020

  • US Cases: Over 16 million.
  • US Deaths: 300,421.

US States with Most Confirmed Cases:

  • California: 1,486,597 confirmed cases; 20,625 deaths.
  • Texas: 1,410,035 confirmed cases; 24,066 deaths.
  • Florida: 1,094,697 confirmed cases; 19,591 deaths.
  • Illinois: 823,531 confirmed cases; 14,845 deaths.
  • New York: 782,680 confirmed cases; 35,326 deaths.

FDA Pannel Green Lights Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine

Vaccine Advisers from the US FDA voted on Thursday to recommend that the agency approves the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. Overall, 17 members of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee voted yes, four voted no and one abstained. The FDA is expected to issue Emergency Use Authorization as early as tomorrow (Saturday).

Fauci Reiterates that “Normality” Won’t Come Until At Least Summer 2021

As as a COVID-19 vaccine is dispensed to the public, it will still take months before the nation returns to normal, says Dr. Anthony Fauci.”If we have a smooth vaccination program where everybody steps to the plate quickly, we could get back to some form of normality, reasonably quickly. Into the summer, and certainly into the fall,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN Thursday.

“My hope and my projection is that if we get people vaccinated en masse so that we get that large percentage of the population, as we get into the fall, we can get real comfort about people being in schools, safe in school — be that K-12, or college,” he added.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Committee Meets Today to Consider Emergency Authorization for COVID-19 Vaccine

A group of advisers are discussing emergency use authorization (EUA) of Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 candidate, and widely expected to grant such authorization. “Our team has done their initial analysis, and we do feel that preliminarily that the success criteria have been met,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn told CNN Tuesday.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

White House Aims to Deploy Vaccine Within 96 Hours of Authorization

The US and Food and Drug Administration will meet on Thursday to discuss whether to grant emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. A decision could come within days of that meeting, and shortly thereafter, the plan is to start vaccinating Americans. After any EUA is made, “we will start to have shots in arms within 96 hours” of that decision, Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine initiative, said Tuesday. “That’s what I believe with all my heart.”

Senior Leaders to Receive Vaccine First, Says Pentagon

The Pentagon confirmed that a small number of senior officials will be among the first to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. “We do intend as part of this initial phase of healthcare workers, emergency responders, etcetera, have some very small set of very visible leaders that will volunteer to take the vaccine, do it in a public way as one way of helping to message the safety and efficacy and underscore that we are encouraging all those eligible personnel to take the vaccine,” Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, Thomas McCaffery, announced Wednesday.

Delta Places Nearly 700 People on No-Fly List Over Mask Wearing

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian says that almost 700 people have been placed on a no-fly list by the company for refusing to comply with the airline’s mask wearing policy.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

President Trump to Sign EO Prioritizing Vaccine Shipment to Americans

President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Tuesday which will prioritize the shipment of a COVID-19 vaccine to Americans before other nations, according to senior officials and reported by CNN. The signing is expected to take place during a vaccine summit at the White House, and is intended to quell any fears that there won’t be enough vaccine to go around to each American after dispensing begins.

Peer-Reviewed Data Confirms AstraZeneca Vaccine is 70% Effective

AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate was confirmed to be 70.4% effective in an interim analysis, published in a peer-viewed journal. “Overall vaccine efficacy across both groups was 70.4%,” the researchers – from the University of Oxford, AstraZeneca and other institutions around the world – wrote in the study. “Here, we present the first interim safety and efficacy data for a viral vector coronavirus vaccine, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, evaluated in four trials across three continents, showing significant vaccine efficacy of 70.4% after two doses and protection of 64.1% after at least one standard dose, against symptomatic disease, with no safety concerns,” the researchers wrote.

Pfizer Says People Need to Take 2 Doses for 95% Efficacy

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said that while patients have some level of protection from COVID-19 after 12 days of taking the first dose, a second dose is necessary to achieve 95% efficacy. “This is a two-dose vaccine, so people need to take two doses to be able to feel confident that they’re protected at 95% — 95% chance of being protected,” Bourla said during an International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations briefing on Tuesday. “At the dose one, it’s around 50%, something like that.”

Trump Administration Official Explains Why US Passed Up on Buying More Pfizer Vaccine

An official with the White’s “Operation Warp Speed” explained why the team passed up a chance to purchase more than the current total of 100 million doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. According to the official, the decision was made as part of a plan to “diversify” the nation’s vaccine arsenal through the purchase of millions of doses from Pfizer’s rivals. At the time, officials at “Operation Warp Speed” had no idea the Pfizer vaccine was going to be this effective.   “The plan was to diversify and don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

Monday, December 7, 2020

US Nears 200,000 Cases Per Day Average

The US infection rate is dire and a vaccine can’t come soon enough. The US is now averaging 200,000 new cases of COVID-19 each day. Health experts say that “behavior and cold weather” are the culprits for the surge. “People are going indoors, they’re not minding the three W’s,” Health and Human Services secretary, Alex Azar, told Fox News’ Chris Wallace Sunday. “Our advice is always the same. Wash your hands, watch your distance, wear face coverings.”

Rudy Giuliani Hospitalized with COVID-19

Former New York City mayor and personal attorney of President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, has been hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19. Giuliani, 76, was admitted to Georgetown University Hospital on Sunday, according to a CNN report. Giuliani Tweeted that he is, “Getting great care and feeling good.”

Gov. Cuomo Orders New York Hospitals to Increase Capacity by 25%

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced as part of NY’s new “Surge and Flex” strategy that hospitals must increase bed capacity by 25%. The state’s positivity rate is currently 4.79%.

Friday, December 4, 2020

  • US Cases: Over 14.5 million.
  • US Deaths: 283,519.

US States with Most Confirmed Cases:

  • Texas: 1,317,457 confirmed cases; 22,279 deaths.
  • California: 1,291,214 confirmed cases; 19,588 deaths.
  • Florida: 1,029,030 confirmed cases; 18,874 deaths.
  • Illinois: 759,562 confirmed cases; 13,625 deaths.
  • New York: 713,587 confirmed cases; 34,829 deaths.

Biden Urges Americans to Don Masks for 100 Days

President-elect Joe Biden is urging Americans to wear masks for the next 100 days to reduce the spread of COVID-19. “Just 100 days to mask, not forever. One hundred days. And I think we’ll see a significant reduction,” Biden told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

COVID-19 the Leading Cause of Death in the US This Week

COVID-19 is the leading cause of death in the US this week – surpassing heart disease, and cancer. There were an average of 1,660 deaths per day across America this week, according to the  Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and the University of Washington.

Fauci Apologizes for Suggesting UK Rushed Vaccine

Dr. Anthony Fauci today apologized for suggesting British regulators had not scrutinized the disease closely enough. There really has been a misunderstanding, and for that, I’m sorry and I apologize for that. I do have great faith in both the scientific community and the regulatory community at the UK,” Fauci told the BBC. “I do have confidence. It came out wrong and that was not the way I meant it to be,” he added.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

UK Did Not Scrutinize Pfizer Vaccine Trial as Well as US FDA Did, Says Fauci

British health regulators who authorized the Pfizer vaccine did not scrutinize the trial data as closely as the US FDA is doing in its review, according to Dr. Fauci. “The way the FDA is, our FDA is doing it, is the correct way,” Fauci said in an interview on Fox News.

“We really scrutinize the data very carefully to guarantee to the American public that this is a safe and efficacious vaccine,” he said. “I think if we did any less, we would add to the already existing hesitancy on the part of many people to take the vaccine because they’re concerned about safety or they’re concerned that we went too quickly.”

Moderna Expects 100-125 Million Doses of Vaccine Globally in Early 2021

Moderna said on Thursday it expects between 100 million and 125 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine available by the first quarter of 2021. “Today, Moderna re-affirmed its expectation of having approximately 20 million doses available in the U.S. by the end of 2020,” the company said in a statement. “Additionally, the Company expects to have between 100 million and 125 million doses available globally in the first quarter of 2021, with 85-100 million of those available in the U.S. and 15-25 million of those available outside of the U.S. These expected first quarter doses are inclusive within the 500 million to up to 1 billion doses that the Company expects to manufacture globally in 2021.”

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

First Shipments of Pfizer Vaccine to be Delivered on Dec. 15

The first shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine will be delivered on December 15, according to Operation Warp Speed and reported by CNN. The date is still contingent upon a decision by the US Food and Drug Administration to authorize each vaccine for emergency use. Pfizer submitted an application to the FDA on November 20, and Moderna submitted its application 10 days later, on November 30.

CDC Advisory Panel Votes on Who Gets Vaccine First

A panel of advisers to the US CDC voted 13-1 to recommend that both health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities to be first in line for any COVID-19 that receives emergency use authorization from the FDA.

CDC Director Suggests Mandating COVID-19 Vaccine for Certain Industries

Certain occupations and populations may benefit from a coronavirus vaccine mandate, according to CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield. “It will be a decision, I think, each industry will make,” Redfield said. “I do think there are certain industries where I think it would be important to protect their workforce, and some other industries where it may be important to make sure that they protect their costumers and consumers.”

US Surpasses 100,000 Hospitalizations

The US surpassed 100,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Wednesday, according to a report from the COVID Tracking Project (CTP).

Almost 50 NBA Players Test Positive

According to the NBA and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), of the 546 players tested for COVID-19 during this initial return-to-market testing phase, 48 have tested positive. The league reported that anyone who has returned a confirmed positive test during this initial phase of testing in their team’s market will be isolated until they are cleared for leaving isolation.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

CDC Shortens Virus Quarantine Time

The CDC will issue new guidelines that recommend people who come in contact with a person infected with COVID-19 should quarantine for 10 days after exposure – down from the previous 14 days that government currently recommends.

All Americans Who Want to Be Vaccinated Can Be By June

An official with the White House’s Operation Warp Speed said today that any American who wants a COVID-19 vaccine will have one available to them by June. “A hundred percent of Americans that want the vaccine will have had the vaccine by that point in time,” said Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski, director of supply, production and distribution for Operation Warp Speed.

US Nursing Home Cases Surging

Nursing homes in the US have reported their highest daily cases of COVID-19 since the spring, according to a report from the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL). “Our worst fears have come true as COVID runs rampant among the general population, and long term care facilities are powerless to fully prevent it from entering due to its asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread,” said Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL, in a statement.

COVID-19: October/November Round-up

 

COVID-19: August/September Round-up

The COVID-19 Pandemic: June/July Round-up

The COVID-19 Pandemic: May Round-up

The COVID-19 Pandemic: April Round-up