US braces for post-Thanksgiving virus surge

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GBNEWS24 DESK//

After a Thanksgiving weekend when the number of people travelling through US airports reached its highest since mid-March, a top government official said on Monday some Americans could begin receiving coronavirus vaccinations before Christmas.

US Health Secretary Alex Azar said Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine could be authorised and shipped within days of a Dec 10 meeting of outside advisers to the Food and Drug Administration tasked with reviewing trial data and recommending whether it warrants approval, reports Reuters.

A vaccine from Moderna Inc could follow a week later, he said, after the company announced on Monday it would apply for US and European emergency authorisation. Final trial data showed the vaccine to be 94.1% effective at preventing COVID-19, comparable with Pfizer’s results.

“So we could be seeing both of these vaccines out and getting into people’s arms before Christmas,” Azar said on CBS’ “This Morning.”

The federal government will ship the vaccines. State governors will decide how they are distributed within their states.

The United States has reported 4.2 million new COVID-19 cases so far in November and more than 36,000 coronavirus-related deaths, according to a Reuters tally. Hospitalisations are at a pandemic high and deaths the most in six months.

As the virus rages across the country, overwhelming hospital systems and pushing already exhausted medical staff near a breaking point, the governor of California warned that intensive care units in the state’s hospitals were on track to exceed statewide capacity by mid-December.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom said he may impose tougher coronavirus restrictions over the next two days, including a possible stay-at-home order.

Nearly 93,000 Americans are currently hospitalised with COVID-19, up 11% from last week and double the number reported a month ago, according to a Reuters analysis of state and county public health reports.

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