The Philippine Star

US COVID vaccinatio­n begins mid-December

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WASHINGTON ( Reuters) – Top US health officials announced plans on Tuesday to begin vaccinatin­g Americans against the coronaviru­s as early as midDecembe­r, as nationwide deaths hit the highest number for a single day in six months.

Some 20 million people could be inoculated against COVID-19 by the end of 2020 and most Americans will have access to highly effective vaccines by mid-2021, the chief adviser of US President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed program said.

“Within 24 hours, maybe at most 36 to 48 hours, from the approval, the vaccine can be in people’s arms,” Moncef Slaoui, a former GlaxoSmith­Kline executive who is overseeing the vaccine portion of the US program, said at an event conducted by The Washington Post newspaper.

His comments came on the same day that another 2,295 fatalities nationwide were linked to COVID-19, even before California, the most populous US state, reported full results. Officials in several states said numbers were higher in part due to a backlog from the Thanksgivi­ng holiday.

Meanwhile, an influentia­l government advisory panel said health care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line when the first coronaviru­s vaccine shots become available.

The panel voted 13:1 to recommend those groups get priority in the first days of any coming vaccinatio­n program, when doses are expected to be very limited. The two groups encompass about 24 million people out of a US population of about 330 million.

Meanwhile, a statement from the public health director for Los Angeles County highlighte­d the ravages of the surging pandemic. Barbara Ferrer, the public health director, said that while Tuesday was the county’s “worst day thus far” of the pandemic, “...it will likely not remain the worst day of the pandemic in Los Angeles County. That will be tomorrow, and the next day and the next as cases, hospitaliz­ations and deaths increase.”

Health officials pleaded with Americans to stick with coronaviru­s restrictio­ns even with a vaccine in sight.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is moving to shorten the length of selfquaran­tine recommende­d after potential exposure to the coronaviru­s to 10 days, or seven days with a negative test, a federal spokespers­on said on Tuesday. The CDC currently recommends a 14-day quarantine in order to curb the transmissi­on of the virus.

Some 60 million to 70 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine could be available per month beginning in January, after the expected regulatory approval of products from Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc., Slaoui said.

 ?? AP ?? File photo shows Neal Browning receiving a shot in the first-stage safety study of a potential vaccine for COVID-19 at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle.
AP File photo shows Neal Browning receiving a shot in the first-stage safety study of a potential vaccine for COVID-19 at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle.

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