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U.S. readies COVID-19 vaccine rollout as death toll climbs

Stock MarketsDec 11, 2020 07:06PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. Back-up hospital beds are seen in the parking garage at the Renown Regional Medical Center 2/2

By Maria Caspani and Brendan O'Brien

NEW YORK/INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) -Health authorities, shipping services and hospitals, expecting imminent federal regulatory approval of the first COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, put final plans in place on Friday to launch a mass-inoculation campaign of unparalleled dimension.

Last-minute preparations for the vaccine rollout came as the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus pandemic approached 300,000 to date, capping weeks of ominously surging infections and hospitalizations that have strained healthcare systems to their limits.

Another 2,902 U.S. deaths were reported on Thursday, a day after a record 3,253, a pace projected to continue over the next two to three months even as distribution of available vaccine supplies ramps up. The process could start as soon as Monday.

Moving with unprecedented speed, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday was on the cusp of approving emergency use of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc (NYSE:PFE) with its German partner BioNTech.

"The FDA informed Pfizer that they do intend to proceed towards an authorization for their vaccine," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told ABC News on Friday.

"We will work with Pfizer to get that shipped out so we could be seeing people getting vaccinated Monday or Tuesday," Azar said.

Britain, Bahrain and Canada have already approved the Pfizer vaccine, and the U.S. advisory panel is due to review a second vaccine, from Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) Inc, next week.

Other vaccine candidates are in the works as the United States gears up for a campaign evocative of the polio inoculations for children during the 1950s and 1960s.

Delivery companies United Parcel Service (NYSE:UPS) and FedEx Corp (NYSE:FDX) stood ready to ship millions of doses to staging across the country under contract with the federal government, giving top priority to the vaccines on their airplanes and trucks.

Plans call for U.S. marshals to provide security for COVID-19 vaccine shipments from manufacturing facilities to distribution sites, including acting as escorts for delivery trucks.

New York City officials announced plans to open a vaccine command center across the street from City Hall on Monday to coordinate distribution throughout the nation's largest city. Particular attention will be paid to the 27 hardest-hit neighborhoods largely populated by ethnic minorities, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

"This is unprecedented because it's not just about logistics, it's about making sure we win public trust, it's about ensuring equity," de Blasio told a news briefing.

New York state expects to receive 346,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine the week of Dec. 21, on top of the 170,000 Pfizer doses coming this weekend, Governor Andrew Cuomo told a news conference.

But with COVID-19 hospitalizations climbing across the state, Cuomo announced that indoor dining in New York City, which resumed just over two months ago, will cease beginning Monday.

VACCINE DRY-RUN

The Indiana University Health center, one of the first hospitals designated to administer the vaccine, planned to rehearse its vaccination procedures on Friday, with pharmacists, nurses and doctors taking part in drills for storing, transporting and giving actual shots to patients.

"We want to make sure that we are perfectly ready and open with a bang," Kristen Kelley, director of infection prevention at IU Health, told Reuters.

Elsewhere, many healthcare workers were struggling just to keep up with a staggering caseload while facing shortages of staff and personal protective equipment (PPE), including surgical gloves, gowns and rapid diagnostic test kits.

"We don't have nearly enough. They're not readily available, they take too long, and the supply chain isn't working consistently," Konnie Martin, chief executive officer for San Luis Valley Health, which runs the Regional Medical Center in Alamosa, Colorado.

The Alamosa hospital serves six mostly rural counties in southern Colorado that are home to some 50,000 residents. The next nearest comparable hospital is 120 miles (193 km) away.

Healthcare workers are expected to be designated as first in line for shots.

The U.S. rollout faces significant logistical challenges to meet President-elect Joe Biden's goal of inoculating 100 million people - about a third of the U.S. population - within 100 days of his inauguration on Jan. 20.

But any American who wants a vaccine should be able to get one by May or June, Assistant U.S. Health Secretary Brett Giroir told Fox News on Friday.

States will determine who gets the vaccine first and were likely to focus on healthcare workers, followed by people in long-term care facilities, the elderly and individuals with chronic conditions and first responders, Giroir said.

There is cause for concern about Americans' skepticism of vaccines, with only 61% saying they are open to getting vaccinated, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

In the meantime, grim statistics continue to pile up as more than 200,000 U.S. cases per day were recorded for four straight days, with another 220,815 cases on Thursday, according to a Reuters tally of official data.

The United States has reported about 15.6 million known infections as of Thursday.

U.S. COVID-related deaths are projected to reach 502,000 by April 1, according to an influential model by the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

The institute revised that number down by about 37,000 on Thursday with the release of more detailed information about the vaccine and other factors.

U.S. readies COVID-19 vaccine rollout as death toll climbs
 

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Comments (7)
Victor Menken
Victor Menken Dec 11, 2020 2:04PM ET
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I am sure that half of the people ,who died from covid ,had cancer or heart problems
Paul Dunne
Paul Dunne Dec 11, 2020 2:04PM ET
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Interesting! Research reference data, please?
Victor Menken
Victor Menken Dec 11, 2020 2:04PM ET
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Paul Dunne i spoke to a lot of doctors.But you can do a reasearch about it and find something
Felipe Daniel
Felipe Daniel Dec 11, 2020 10:54AM ET
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CDC is China the vaccine is full of side effects
Abcdefg Abcdefg
Abcdefg Abcdefg Dec 11, 2020 10:41AM ET
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Im curious, what ever happened to the FLU DATA? How do we know if the Flu Data wasn't mixed in with the Covid Data? So Im supposed to believe that the FLU magically disappeared? 🤔🤔
Paul Dunne
Paul Dunne Dec 11, 2020 10:41AM ET
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You'll find all the statistics in The Lancet medical journal.
Zach Earle
Zach Earle Dec 11, 2020 10:32AM ET
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FDT 4 Lyfe.
Ridha B younes
Ridha B younes Dec 11, 2020 9:16AM ET
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you can't leave nine eleven alone
Kelly Mayer
Kelly Mayer Dec 11, 2020 8:49AM ET
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0.0025% of the world population have tested positive  for COVID. 0.000136% are in serious condition. C19study.com shows effective cures. Then come the fanatics: “Let’s lockdown countries and vaccinate the whole world or god save us all!!!” - And the most insane part is that this is the main stream narrative. God save the awakened, the ones who battle through these dark times of psy/info warfare declared upon the citizens of the world.
Zach Earle
Zach Earle Dec 11, 2020 8:49AM ET
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You're a r-tard
Paolo Sarvia
Paolo Sarvia Dec 11, 2020 8:49AM ET
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🚑
Larry Knight
Larry Knight Dec 11, 2020 8:28AM ET
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Negativity surrounding vaccines are not a good thing. They give hope to a return to "normal" and the banishment of the mask narrative.
 
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