WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States widened its network to administer COVID-19 vaccines to doctors and nurses, killing more than 3,000 Americans a day in the form of a major storm on Wednesday, here Even a major storm threatened to make slow progress on the east coast. .
While medical professionals climbed up their sleeves at a growing number of hospitals, lawmakers on Capitol Hill said they were passing a long-elusive bipartisan deal worth $ 900 billion in economic relief to American workers and businesses affected by the epidemic .
The aid package, tied to a mass spending bill that must pass by Friday to prevent a federal shutdown, was not expected to include COVID-relief amounts for state and local governments, as Democrats would like Were, or protection for companies related to epidemics. The lawsuits sought by Republicans.
The rollout of the first installment of a 2.9 million dose of a newly authorized vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and German partner BioNTech SE was in its third full day, with 66 more distribution hubs nationwide.
A second vaccine from Modern Inc. could win emergency-use approval from the US Food and Drug Administration this week.
Express delivery companies FedEx and United Parcel Service shared a leading role in the vaccine shipment, saying they were monitoring the potential effects of heavy snow and ice, which began to disrupt transportation along the eastern seaboard.
U.S. Army General Gustave Parna, overseeing the government’s Operation War Speed campaign, said FedEx and UPS have developed contingency plans to secure any delayed vaccine shipments until they can be “delivered the next day” . “
“We are all on track with the delivery that we said we were doing,” Perna told reporters at a briefing. He cited a minor glitch involving four trays of a vaccine – two were sent to California and two to Alabama – which came in at temperatures lower than scheduled. The tray in question was sent back to the Pfizer and replaced later, Perna said.
Some other vaccine delivery centers received the bulk of the initial batch of shipments on Monday and Tuesday, and there was also a large wave for delivery to 886 additional locations on Friday.
From each delivery site, the vaccine dose was divided between area hospitals and administered to health workers, who were designated first in line for vaccination. Some were also going to residents and staff of long-term care facilities. Later the vaccine round will go to other essential workers, senior citizens and people with chronic health conditions.
US President-Elect Joe Biden, who has said he will receive the vaccine publicly to help build confidence in his safety, is expected to receive injections early next week, according to his transition team.
78-year-old Biden is in a high-risk category for coronovirus due to his age.
‘Not over yet’
It would take several months for vaccines to become widely available to the public on demand, and public opinion polls have left many Americans hesitant about becoming inactive.
Meanwhile political leaders and medical officials have launched a media blitz assuring Americans that the vaccine is safe while urging them to avoid social disturbances and the growing crisis of wearing masks.
“It’s not over yet,” White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Anthony Fauci told CBS News. “Public health measures are the bridge to get the vaccine, which is going to get us out of it.”
Data shows that infections are on the rise and hospitalized health care systems are driving to the breaking point in most parts of the country, with many intensive care units.
According to a Reuters tally, the United States on Wednesday reported at least 3,459 additional coronovirus deaths alone, exceeding the daily toll of 3,000 for the fourth time in a week. An average of seven days lost 2,500 lives every 24 hours for the first time this week.
To date, COVID-19 deaths nationally total more than 304,000, while an increasing case load of 16.7 million known infections represents approximately 5% of the US population.
With hospitalization on its 19th consecutive day – when about 113,000 patients are setting a record for treatment on Wednesday – health experts have warned that despite continuing outbreaks of immunization campaigns, fatalities will increase in the coming weeks.
US Health Secretary Alex Azar said in a conference call that 2 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 5.9 million doses of the modern vaccine could be allocated next week. Both require two doses, each given three or four weeks apart.
All in all, the United States has options to purchase 300 million doses of those vaccines, Azar said, as well as hundreds of more doses of vaccines still to gain approval, including some single-dose drugs.
Azar said that the United States could supply a surplus of vaccines in the future if it is safe to have all the vaccines that are authorized for use, Azar said, adding that it could benefit other countries.
The Trump administration was in talks with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Eli Lilly and Co to secure additional antibody treatment doses, Monsep Saloui, chief advisor for Operation Warp Speed, told the same conference call.
Reporting by Susan Heave, Manas Mishra, Anurag Mann, Lisa Shumaker and, Richard Cowan; Writing by Daniel Trotta and Steve Gorman; Editing by Steve Orlofsky, Aurora Ellis and Grant McCool