US hopes to start virus vaccines in December as pandemic surges

A woman receives a COVID-19 vaccination from Yaquelin De La Cruz at the Research Centers of America (RCA) in Hollywood, Florida, on August 13, 2020. (File/AFP)
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Updated 22 November 2020

US hopes to start virus vaccines in December as pandemic surges

  • Slaoui estimated that 20 million people across the US could be vaccinated in December, with 30 million per month after that
  • The beginning of vaccinations could be a crucial shift in the battle against a virus that has claimed more than 1.4 million lives worldwide

WASHINGTON: The United States hopes to begin coronavirus vaccinations in early December, a top government health official said Sunday, the latest positive news to emerge even as cases surge across the worst-hit nation and elsewhere around the globe.
The beginning of vaccinations could be a crucial shift in the battle against a virus that has claimed more than 1.4 million lives worldwide, including 255,000 just in the US, since emerging from China late last year.
A slew of positive results from vaccines has bolstered hopes for an end to the pandemic as surging cases force nations to reimpose restrictions and lockdowns that slowed the spread earlier this year but turned lives and economies upside down across the globe.
Two leading vaccine candidates - one by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech and another by US firm Moderna -have shown to be 95 percent effective and Pfizer already applied to emergency use approval from US health authorities.
"Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunization sites within 24 hours of approval" by the US Food and Drug Administration, Moncef Slaoui, head of the US government virus vaccine effort, told CNN, pointing to possible dates of December 11-12.
FDA vaccine advisors reportedly will meet December 10 to discuss approving vaccines.
Slaoui estimated that 20 million people across the US could be vaccinated in December, with 30 million per month after that.
US drug regulators on Saturday already gave emergency approval to a Covid-19 antibody therapy - one used by US President Donald Trump - and G20 nations were pushing for global "equitable" access to vaccines with worries poorer nations will be left behind.
With cases surpassing 12 million in the United States, the highest in the world, many Americans were nonetheless heading to airports to travel for next week's Thanksgiving holiday despite health officials' warnings to stay home.
Some US states were imposing new restrictions, including California, where a 10 pm to 5 am curfew was taking effect. New York city has closed schools again.
On the opposite side of the Atlantic, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to announce that restrictions across England are to end on December 2 as planned, his office said.
But the lockdown will be followed by a return to a three-tiered set of regional curbs.
Britain has suffered more than any other country in Europe from the coronavirus, with more than 54,000 deaths from 1.4 million cases.

Related


Scotland leader ‘never been more certain’ of independence

Updated 28 November 2020

Scotland leader ‘never been more certain’ of independence

  • The head of Scotland’s devolved government and the leader of the pro-independence SNP told supporters at the party’s virtual conference

GLASGOW: Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Saturday said she had “never been more certain” of achieving independence, with Britain’s final departure from EU trading arrangements set to precede key Scottish elections in the months ahead.

The head of Scotland’s devolved government and the leader of the pro-independence SNP told supporters at the party’s virtual conference that the prospect of a break between Scotland and the rest of the UK has never been closer.

“Independence is in clear sight — and with unity of purpose, humility and hard work I have never been so certain that we will deliver it,” she said.

Sturgeon and the SNP have argued for a second referendum on Scottish independence since the party’s overwhelming victory among Scottish seats in Britain’s 2019 general election.

Now she hopes that a further resounding win in May elections to the Edinburgh parliament will hand her party a mandate for a second bid to quit the UK.

Opinion polls in recent months have shown that a majority of public opinion in Scotland now supports independence.

The country chose to remain part of the four-nation United Kingdom in a 2014 referendum on the issue.

But Scots later voted by a thumping majority in 2016 to remain in the European Union, a referendum the Leave side won by a narrow margin when taking the rest of Britain into account.

Since then, “we have won a landslide victory in a UK general election and support for independence has risen, it has become the sustained and majority view in public opinion this year,” said Sturgeon.

“Who should be taking the decisions that shape our futures? We know that it is the people who live here, wherever they come from, who can best harness Scotland’s immense human and natural resources.

“Let us reach out to all Scotland like never before,” she added.

Sturgeon urged her party to “demonstrate ... that Scotland is ready to take our place in the global family of independent nations,” saying it was “now a nation on the brink of making history.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly rebuffed calls from for a another referendum, saying that the 2014 vote settled the question for a generation.

Earlier this month, Scottish independence campaigners seized on comments by the prime minister in which he said the creation of a devolved parliament in Edinburgh had been “a disaster.”

In response Sturgeon said the only way to protect the parliament was “with independence.”

On Thursday, she said a referendum could be held “in the earlier part” of the next parliamentary session.

“The people of Scotland have the right to choose their future. Let’s now focus all our efforts on making sure we bring about that better country they and future generations deserve,” Sturgeon said on Saturday.