US Plans For First COVID-19 Vaccines As Pandemic Deaths Surge Again

A health worker provides a COVID-19 test at a drive-through testing site in Staten Island, New York, US. (📷: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)

DELIK WORLD - Top US health officials announced plans on Tuesday to begin vaccinating Americans against the coronavirus as early as mid-December, as nationwide deaths hit the highest number for a single day in six months.

About 20 million people could be inoculated against COVID-19 by the end of 2020 and most Americans will have access to highly effective vaccines by mid-2021, the chief adviser of President Donald Trump's Operation Warp Speed program said.

"Within 24 hours, maybe at most 36 to 48 hours, from the approval, the vaccine can be in people's arms," Moncef Slaoui, a former GlaxoSmithKline executive who is overseeing the vaccine portion of the US programme, said at an event conducted by the Washington Post newspaper.

His comments came on the same day that another 2,295 fatalities nationwide were linked to COVID-19, even before California, the most populous US state, reported full results. Officials in several states said numbers were higher in part due to a backlog from the Thanksgiving holiday.

A statement from the public health director for Los Angeles County highlighted the ravages of the surging pandemic. Barbara Ferrer, the public health director, said that while Tuesday was the county's "worst day thus far" of the pandemic, "it will likely not remain the worst day of the pandemic in Los Angeles County. That will be tomorrow, and the next day and the next as cases, hospitalisations and deaths increase".

Health officials pleaded with Americans to stick with coronavirus restrictions even with a vaccine in sight.

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