The clock is ticking on the COVID-19 vaccine as Beth Bell, a global health expert at the University of Washington who chairs the panel’s coronavirus vaccine workgroup noted that “There is an average of one covid death per minute right now,” she said. In four hours, at least 180 people “will have died from covid-19, so we are acting none too soon.”
Here are your coronavirus vaccine updates.
The first COVID-19 has arrived in the UK
The UK has just become the first country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine and has announced that the first round of vaccines will roll out across the country next week. The final analysis of Pfizer’s vaccine trial proved to be 95 percent effective in preventing infections, even in older adults, with no serious side effects.
As the deadly virus has taken almost 1.5 million lives worldwide, BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin told CNN that, “We believe it is really the start of the end of the pandemic.” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla hailed the emergency authorization as “a historic moment in the fight against Covid-19.”=
The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine, which is enough to vaccinate 20 million people. The UK’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC that an initial 800,000 doses would be delivered from Pfizer’s facilities in Belgium to the UK next week, and “many millions” more before the end of the year. Elderly people in care homes, their caretakers, health workers, and other high-risk people are at the top of the priority list.
US Health and Human Services Secretary Alexander Azar said on Wednesday, December 2, that the UK’s authorization of the vaccine is good news for Americans.
Updates on COVID-19 vaccine in the US: Who is first in line?
It has been confirmed, as of Tuesday, December 2, that the first doses of the long-awaited coronavirus vaccine will be given to an estimated 21 million health-care workers and 3 million residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities, according to the federal advisory.
Residents and employees of long-term-care facilities were prioritized because they account for nearly 40 percent of deaths from covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Essential workers were deemed ‘the highest priority’ by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices because the vaccine will initially be in extremely short supply after it is cleared by federal regulators. Health-care personnel is a top priority because of their exposure to the virus and their critical role in keeping the nation’s hospitals and clinics functioning.
Nancy Messonnier, the top official overseeing distribution at the CDC, said her talks with state and local officials suggest that most intend to vaccinate all their health-care workers within three weeks of getting the vaccine.
Next in line are older Americans and all those who are considered high risk or immunocompromised.
How much will the vaccine cost?
The CDC has said that vaccines purchased with taxpayer money will be free, but providers may still charge for administering the jab. That fee may be reimbursed by health insurance companies or the Medicaid and Medicare programs.
What’s next for the vaccine?
The recommendations, if approved by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Director Robert Redfield, will become official CDC guidance for the US. There is a distribution meeting set for this Friday, December 4.
Acknowledging the public’s interest, Messonnier said: “To all the people out there who are anxiously waiting for this vaccine, we hope this vote gets us one step closer to the day when we can all feel safe again.”
U.S. officials anticipate having about 40 million doses of vaccines from Pfizer and biotech firm Moderna by the end of the year, enough to immunize 20 million people, which is only a fraction of the U.S. population of 330 million. Operation Warp Speed, the administration’s initiative to speed vaccine and therapeutics development, plans to send the first batch of 6.4 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine to communities nationwide within 24 hours of FDA clearance, with the expectation that shots will be administered quickly.
There are a few key dates coming up.
- December 8 – White House summit with vaccine firms
- December 10 – FDA could approve the Pfizer vaccine
- December 14 – Rollout of Pfizer vaccine could begin this week
- December 17 – FDA could approve the Moderna vaccine