US expects to begin COVID vaccinations in early December

Grant Boone
November 23, 2020

Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the chief scientific advisor for Operation Warp Speed, says, "My expectation is that this vaccine will be as safe as all the other vaccines that are being used in the population".

Also earlier this month, US biotechnology company Moderna released preliminary data, saying its COVID-19 vaccine appears to be 94.5 percent effective.

Dr. Slaoui said the FDA's Vaccine Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet on December 10. Pfizer's experimental vaccine requires ultracold storage, at about -70°C.

Slaoui told Tapper that with the level of efficacy that has been shown in both Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines, "70% or so of the population being immunized would allow for true herd immunity to take place, that is likely to happen somewhere in the month of May, or something like that based on our plans".

The United States hopes to begin a sweeping program of COVID vaccinations in early December, the head of the government coronavirus vaccine effort said Sunday as cases surge across the worst-hit nation. Slaoui says Americans could start seeing a vaccine by the middle of December.

The highest-priority groups, which include health care workers, the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions, will get the vaccine first.

She said she expected that to translate into 4 million finished vaccine doses by the end of 2020, and 40 million finished doses by the end of Q1 next year. Typically, the agency takes a few days to authorize the vaccine.

This photo provided by Pfizer shows part of a "freezer farm", a football field-sized facility for storing finished COVID-19 vaccines, under construction in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

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The crisis has prompted state and local government leaders nationwide to reimpose restrictions on social and economic life.

More than 193,000 new cases were reported in the United States on Saturday - the first time the country has topped 190,000 cases in a day.

The new measure, restricting eateries in and around the nation's second-largest city to takeout and deliveries only for the first time since late May, goes into effect on Wednesday.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that coronavirus cases are "rapidly rising" across the country.

"What we do need is we need to get as many people as possible vaccinated".

Testing shortages still plague many parts of the country with most pharmacies offering COVID-19 tests in suburban Chicago were fully booked ahead of Thanksgiving and long lines at state drive-through testing facilities.

Pedestrians pass by the Pfizer world headquarters in NY.

The beginning of vaccinations could be a crucial turning point in the battle against the virus that has claimed more than 255,000 lives in the USA, the world's highest reported toll, since emerging from China late a year ago.

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